Reading aloud to your pets will help your kid learn to read faster

Binyam Gebremeskel, 9, reading aloud to Lucy, a toy poodle. Lucy seems very happy to hear about “Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot” at the Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library. (The Alexandria library offers the Paws to Read program.) Source: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

Binyam Gebremeskel, 9, reading aloud to Lucy, a toy poodle. Lucy seems very happy to hear about “Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot” at the Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library. (The Alexandria library offers the Paws to Read program.)
Source: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

According to Books+Publishing today (from a report in Government News),  Lake Macquarie City Library in regional NSW is signing up for more bark than bite.

The BaRK literacy program (Building Reading Confidence for Kids) is all about reading books to dogs. The Library has asked pet owners and dogs in their region to come along for this incredibly successful eight-week program.

It’s all about improving reading skills and confidence for children with reading difficulties or speech impediments, by having them read aloud to a trained therapy dog. It works so well that they need more dogs for all the kids who have signed up!

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Go where you find inspiration: Part 2: Real live animals that should be in fantasy novels

Go where you find inspiration, and go there often

 

My previous post was about the Art Gallery Museum and the intriguing characters I uncovered in the old portrait paintings there. Now let me tell you about the incredible animals I discovered, many for the first time, at the South Australian Museum.

The Mouflon, found in the Caucasus, northern and eastern Iraq, and northwestern Iran

The Mouflon, found in the Caucasus, northern and eastern Iraq, and northwestern Iran

Some of these guys really look like they should be in a fantasy or sci-fi novel, not in the real world. For that reason, I found these animals awakened in me again the desire to write fantasy, a genre I’ve spent many years in but often abandon for “more grown-up” genres like science fiction (haha) or drama.

I spent a few hours over three days walking through the ‘Mammals of the World’ taxidermy exhibit, because I just loved it the first day, but there was so much that I just felt I hadn’t taken it all in, needed another hit.

I was pacing back and forth behind the glass, getting a bit upset that these gorgeous things were dead, just carcasses posed for my viewing pleasure, and most of the living versions were endangered anyway, when it hit me. I wanted to write fantasy animals based on these real animals. Think about it – if I describe an animal to you just using the description, not labelling it by the name we know it, it would be harder for you to imagine, wouldn’t it? You might even think I was making it up.

My first mammal looks like some medieval fantasy writer got really tired of writing ad nauseum about wolves howling at the moon and running in packs and chasing our heroes through the woods, so he elongated the nose and tale of a fox and gave it giant ears, then shrunk it to cat size, and…

The Fennec Fox, found in the Sahara of North Africa

The Fennec Fox, found in the Sahara of North Africa

BAM! Fennec Fox. (Seriously, what’s with these adorable little guys? They’re so darn cute!)

Here are some of the other animals that inspired me:

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