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The Paws & Pages Reading Program is a mutually beneficial experience designed to help shy, anxious dogs feel more comfortable around people by having kids read to them. By having the kids read out loud, it encourages the dogs to approach the front of the kennel when visitors and potential adopters are present, instead of cowering in the corner. Dogs who approach the kennel front get adopted more quickly, thus reducing the average length of stay. This process also provides a calming, approachable, and social effect for the cats.

For our young volunteers, the Paws & Pages Reading Program helps foster compassion and empathy, while providing a supportive environment in which to develop their reading skills. In addition, the program allows kids to make a positive impact on the world by helping animals in need.

How It Works

Step 1 - Schedule A Training Session

You only need to participate in ONE 60-minute training session, where a $10 Annual Membership Fee is kindly requested. You will then be given a schedule of available reading sessions on Saturdays from 10 am to 11 am. To ensure a wholesome experience, one parent is required to attend the training and must accompany the child during each reading session.

Step 2 - Confirmation

Someone from Anita’s Stevens Swan Humane Society will reach out to confirm your training date.

Step 3 - Receive Formal Authorization

Once your child has completed their training, they will receive a name tag with a unique promo code which will be used to sign up for the actual reading session. Don't lose this promo code. 

Step 4 - Schedule A Reading Session

Preregistration required. Limited space available. Reading sessions are scheduled in half hour increments. Use your promo code at checkout to confirm your date. For cancellations, please notify us via 24 hours prior to your session.

Sign Up For Reading Session

Step 5 – Day Of Your Scheduled Reading Session

Readers should arrive in closed-toed, rubber-soled shoes to protect their feet and give better traction when walking through the animal wings. Parent/child will check-in at the front desk and receive their name badge and their Readers Promises sheet (reminders of the rules). Readers are welcome to bring a favorite book, but the shelter has a library of animal-themed books to choose from at each reading level. At the scheduled reading time, a volunteer will ask the reader to choose a colored cushion from the wall and book from our library, if needed, and will then lead the parent and reader to the dog or cat area.  Please note:  If the weather is nice, the reader may read to the dogs outside. Please dress appropriately for outside weather. The reader will choose an available dog or cat to read to while sitting sideways on the colored cushion. The volunteer will then notify the reader when the session is completed and punch their reward card. Lastly, the reader will return the Readers Promises sheet, colored cushion and borrowed book to the Paw & Pages area. Badges will go home with the reader but will need to be brought to future reading sessions (All of the steps above will be covered in the training session).

Step 6 - Continue Reading Sessions to Work Toward Incentives

The reader will receive a name tag, lanyard, and a reward card to keep track of their completed sessions. Five punches on the card will earn the reader a dog/cat pin for their lanyard. To earn additional pins, see how many punch cards they can complete.

Did You Know?

Research has shown that reading to dogs has a positive impact on both the animals and the children who interact with them. Here are some statistics to consider:

  • Children who read aloud to dogs for 10 to 15 minutes per week experienced a 12% increase in reading proficiency. (University of California Davis study)
  • In a study, children reported feeling “self-conscious, nervous, clumsy and uncomfortable” when reading out loud, but when they read in the presence of a dog, the same children reported feelings of “happiness and safety.” (University of California Davis study)
  • Research estimates that over 70% of children of all ages talk to, and confide in, animals. (
  • Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program for 13 months increased their reading proficiency by at least two grade levels. (
  • Children who have difficulty relating to other people have been observed to show greater self-confidence around pets, which helps them transfer that behavior to humans. (WebMD)
  • Being read to helps fearful or shy dogs become more comfortable with people because there is no forced interaction. (

Sign Up For Reading Session

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