Libraries across the nation are advertising "PAWS for Reading" programs. My local library has registered therapy dogs come in for three afternoons a week, so that local children can read out loud to them.
Then, just this weekend, a friend of mine posted a picture of her darling son busy reading to a lovely older dog at a local animal shelter. Seems the animal shelter, quick to pick up on a good idea, started a program by which some of their lonely dogs could get a little attention and feel a little less... well... lonely! They call it "Rescue Readers" and find that it benefits the dogs (and cats) that are read to as much as the kids reading to them. The dogs are actually more likely to be adopted as they become a little more settled and calm from having a bit more attention.
Later, I learned that pushing them to read "harder and harder" books wasn't helpful in developing a great reader. Rather, one of the keys is to encourage them to read books that are "easier" than their instructional level! To simply let them share the delight of reading for pleasure, rather than pushing on to more difficult words or phrases or concepts. I remember the giggles from the backseat, as my olders shared Amelia Bedelia books with their younger brother. I remember the summer Costco sold the "Boxcar Children" books in sets, and I bought the first 50 books - simply so they could read, read, read. They were just good, fun, simple reading - but those books formed the runway on which they really got up to speed...and took off to soar!
My olders always read to the youngers during this process. But, at some point, we ran out of "youngers." It didn't help that our youngest was also our reader working through dyslexia. By the time he was ready to read out loud, he was in 5th grade. He didn't really want to read to me all the time. We discovered that his sweet cat, Luke, was the most patient audience for his reading practice. Non-judgmental, always patient, truly happy to just listen to whatever our son chose to read -- Luke was a most valuable partner in our son's reading journey. In fact, looking back, we can see that Luke kept reading with our son long after our son stopped reading to him.
Maybe your Fido - like our Luke - will learn to absolutely LOVE reading! Maybe - like the Red Couch Reading Room mascot, Miska - your pet will even find their very own "favorites" among the books you read. What is certain, though, is that in the process your kids will reap huge benefits as they read out loud to their beloved pets!