Members of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library’s Early Literacy Team recently read to some furry friends at the Pet Resource Center as part of National Paws to Read Month.

March was National Paws to Read Month, and on March 14 a few members of Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library’s Early Literacy Team collaborated with the Pet Resource Center (PRC) staff to read to shelter animals in celebration of literacy initiative.

The idea behind Paws to Read is to improve the literacy skills of children by reading to shelter cats and dogs. The librarians modeled the reading activity to show kids that it can be a fun, positive experience. Choosing children’s books with dog and cat characters added to the fun for the librarians.

Animals provide a comforting presence for young or struggling readers as they work to strengthen literacy skills.

“Some of the benefits of reading aloud to animals include feeling more comfortable about reading, boosting confidence, expanding vocabulary and reading comprehension, increasing positive attitudes toward both reading and school and improving working memory and strengthening fluency. The event with the county’s library staff and Pet Resource Center really is a win-win partnership because the animals provide a safe, judgment-free presence for struggling readers while the children help socialize the animals,” explained Allison Wever, administrative librarian.

The Pet Resource Center offers a few other opportunities for kids to engage with shelter animals under adult supervision. Pawditions is a program where you can keep a pet at home for a few weeks before choosing to finalize the adoption.

Adventure Tails is another program at the PRC. Adventure Tails volunteers take dogs out for a half day or full day. This gives dogs a chance to get out of their kernels and have a break from the chaos of shelter living. The time away gives the animals the social stimulations and emotional comfort they don’t get in a crowded shelter.

The PRC is located at 440 N. Falkenburg Rd. in Tampa.

The Tampa-Hillsborough County Library system regularly offers a variety of early literacy programs, including Baby Story Time, Toddler Time, Story Time, Family Story Time, and Bilingual Story Time. You can check out the calendar at to find a program near you or visit the YouTube page at to watch a Story Time event virtually.

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