As soon as I read about Zach in our local newspaper, I knew we had to meet him. Zach and his person, Nancy Kirk, volunteer their time each Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ironwood Branch of the Phoenix Library. This poodle-lhasa apso mix is a great motivation for children to practice their reading. Prior to this engagement, Nancy spent years volunteering with Zach at the hospice where her mother resided. After her mother passed, they decided to take a break. Reading with children at the library is entirely more cheerful, and such a worthy cause.
My kids Porter (8) and Campbell (6) already love to read, and we make regular trips to the library, but knowing that Zach would be there reignited a fire in them. We talked about reading to Zach for several days, and when they woke this past Wednesday, they couldn't wait for our after-school plans. They nagged...er...gave me plenty of reminders that morning! After school, we headed straight to the library, and for the duration of the car ride, the kids discussed what books they might read to Zach.
When we arrived, a third-grade girl was reading to Zach, petting him with one hand as Nancy helped with big words and her proud mother looked on. The girl's mother looked inspired and a bit teary, and before they left, she thanked Nancy and Zach for helping to motivate her daughter. I can only imagine what joy this special dog brings to kids who struggle with reading.
My kids waited semi-patiently for their turn with Zach. Campbell selected a dog-themed book while Porter chose a book from a favorite series. As the kids read, Zach vacillated between rapt attention and snoozing, but was always calm and comforting and happy to be pet. He is the definition of patience, as is Nancy, who lets the kids work out big words on their own but is happy to help when the struggle persists.
As we wrapped up our time with Zach, a group of young children began to gather for their turn. Even toddlers come to spend time with Zach, making up words to go with the pictures they see if they've not yet learned to read.
After the kids' turns, they each got to choose a dog sticker. A dog and stickers? If that's not motivation to read, I don't know what is.
Zach comes to the library at 4333 E. Chandler Blvd., Phoenix, AZ, every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. Even before we left the library, Porter and Campbell were discussing which books they will read to Zach next week.
How do pets motivate your children to do things they might be reluctant to do?