Make it a pet project

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Did you know that family pets make great listeners? Whether it’s a guinea pig, turtle, cat, fish, bird or dog, most good-tempered animals love attention, a bit of a chat and a good story! 

Not only are pets great playmates, they’re also wonderful teachers. Through their unconditional love, animals can build a child’s self-esteem and empathy as they show kindness and care for them.  

Children are naturally fascinated by and drawn to animals, so when a child interacts with a pet – they may confide their feelings, show affection, give commands, or include them in role play – they’re boosting their brain and language development. 

So, next time you share a story with your little one, invite the family pet. They’ll benefit from the love and attention and your child will learn how to share a story, with confidence. Whether or not they’re already using words, your child can practise in a judgement-free moment by sharing aloud a made-up story or just talking to your pet. This enhances literacy while building your little one’s motivation to read and explore books, even when an animal isn’t present!  

Children can also gain a sense of purpose when they see their pets enjoying their kindness and attention through the act of sharing a story. If you don’t have a pet in your home, or perhaps your child has allergies, they could practise ‘reading’ to a stuffed animal or toy – watch how they flourish given a sense of purpose! 

Additionally. early literacy programs such as Story Dogs bring children and dogs safely together through calm and focussed storytelling. They are a wonderful, judgement-free opportunity for older children with reading difficulties to build confidence sharing a story with a dog, that won’t already know all the words! Check in with your local library for details. 

Here are some fun books to inspire your little one to read to their pet: 

  • Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion 
  • Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings 
  • Some Pets by Angela DiTerlizzi 
  • Not Norman, A Gold Fish Story by Kelly Bennett  
  • Pete the Cat by James Dean 
  • Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts 
  • Who Wants a Tortoise? by David Keane 

First 5 Forever sessions are free at your local library! Join other families and enjoy a fun adventure with your little one.


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