May 5, 2020
Programs where children read to therapy animals have long been a part of AAI. Our Read With Me™ initiative gives schools, libraries, and therapy animal teams the tools and resources for setting up animal-assisted reading programs onsite. But with stay at home orders and social isolation measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, reading visits at schools and libraries aren’t an option in most places. At the same time, many families are experiencing educational disruptions and seeking ways to support their children with home learning. How do you keep up the momentum that comes from reading to pets when in-person reading programs aren’t possible?
We’re excited to launch our new reading project, We Are All Ears. During this time of social isolation, Pet Partners is encouraging families and children all over the world to read to their pets. Reading to pets is an amazing way to get children excited about reading when they can’t be in school, and to help support overall educational efforts at home.
This project is for every kid who has a pet they can read to, every family who wants to encourage reading time, and every person who wants to help keep children reading. Anyone can take part! We want to have readers and pets all across the country and around the world teaming up to read. Our goal is one thousand pledges to read by the end of the school year!
To get started, sign our reading pledge. You can choose your reader’s goal, whether that’s a specific number of books, or a number of days, hours, or minutes read — it can be customized to suit your specific needs and focus. You can also tell us what pets you’ll be reading to, and there’s no restriction on the species! While we expect a lot of dogs and cats will be read to, we hope to see people reading to other types of animals as well. Maybe there are bunnies, lizards, rats, ponies, or backyard chickens who would enjoy story time too.
We also have some fun and helpful resources to get your home reading program underway:
You can also purchase our official We Are All Ears T-shirt! They are available in a variety of colors and sizes, including youth sizes. Proceeds from the sale of these shirts benefit Pet Partners and bring awareness to the value of reading with pets.
Children who are learning to read are often hesitant about their reading abilities. Many kids feel more at ease reading to pets, who are simply there to listen — not to judge how well they are reading. Even when it’s not feasible to read to pets in a structured program, it’s still worthwhile to provide opportunities for young readers to do this. Research shows that there are numerous benefits to reading to an animal:
One of the great things about We Are All Ears is that it offers a variety of ways to participate — no matter what your circumstances are, there’s a way you can read! While the focus of this program is to get kids and pets reading together, teens and adults can also take part. Here are some ideas for ways you can use We Are All Ears to encourage reading in your family and community.
However you choose to take part, make sure to tell us about it! Post your reading photos, videos, challenges, and ideas on social media using #PetPartners and #WeAreAllEars. And follow our social media and the hashtags to see how other people are participating. You might get some new ideas for ways to incorporate reading into your plans.
We’d love to see everyone demonstrate that We Are All Ears for reading!