Okay, it’s a volunteer job.
I’m not much on religion, but I love it when the universe serendipitously reaches out with just what we need, and that’s exactly what this opportunity was for us.
We were at a Harry Potter festival, walking around the various booths, when our local Humane Society lured us in with the siren song of the sweet, purring, adoptable kittens manning their booth. One conversation and a few emails later, the three of us were picking up volunteer shirts at our Humane Society Reading Team orientation.
At orientation we learned that our time reading to the shelter animals wouldn’t just serve us by helping the kids get some reading practice time in, but we’d also be helping to socialize the animals. We were pleasantly surprised to hear that when a shelter visitor sees an animal being read to, that animal’s chances of being adopted drastically increase. The promise of visiting an endless supply of furry critters was alluring enough, but my kids really latched on to a goal of accruing the most Reading Team volunteer hours so that they could win a trophy and a free spot at a summer camp. I’m not normally a fan of extrinsic rewards when it comes to motivating learning, but, hey, if my kids want to win a trophy for reading, I’ll take it.
Every week we fall in love.
Among the many, many amazing things this experience is teaching my children, they’re learning that the best pets aren’t necessarily the ones who are the prettiest. Our all-time favorite (so far) was Mango, a huge black and white cat that had rubbed the fur off behind his ears. He certainly wasn’t the best looking boy there, but he was by far the most loving. When he finally, finally got adopted, we nearly cried because we were so happy for him (and because we missed him). Beauty is skin deep. I know some grownups who haven’t learned this lesson yet.
But back to the reading…
Reading doesn’t come easy for my kids. They’re working so, so hard to get there. Our weekly Reading Team shifts make it not necessarily easier, but certainly more rewarding for them. They read longer, and they read more complex books. After all, the animals are counting on them.
When the kids have read as much as they can, we clock out and reward ourselves with a little time playing with a puppy or kitten.
Reading Team. I’m so glad it found us, and I hope that in some small way, we’re doing our part for the animals.
If you’re interested in finding a Reading Team to join, contact your local Humane Society.