A wonderful way for a child to practice their reading skills is to read to the family pet. This is true if the pet is a cat, dog, turtle, fish, hamster, rock or another critter. It’s especially true when said pet will sit quietly for the story (and at least pretend to pay attention).
Often when we read to other people, there is pressure to not stumble over new words, to speak loudly and clearly and to read to the end of the book. When a child is reading to an adult, or even an older sibling, it can be hard for the audience to just listen and not interrupt with corrections. This can cause the reader to lose their place or feel embarrassed. If there are multiple corrections, the reader may become anxious about making more mistakes, and this anxiety can actually lead to more mistakes, causing the reader to lose confidence.
Thus, our furry family members can be the ideal audience for reading aloud; they never judge when we make mistakes, they are patient when we have to sound out words and they don’t mind if we need to take a break before the end of a chapter. They’re also very understanding if we have to reread parts for better comprehension.
Sharing books with loved ones is a great way to not only pass the time but also build bonds. Including our furry (and nonfurry) family members in the experience often increases the joy and can be an encouragement for children to read aloud. If your home does not have a pet, stuffed animals also make great listeners.
If you are looking for ideas of stories to share with your furry friends, you can start here. However, I’ve found most pets will listen to anything you wish to share with them. Just don’t be offended if they consider it their bedtime story and fall asleep!