Shelby Township Library to host Paws to Read events

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby-Utica News | Published November 14, 2022

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Library will be hosting a Paws to Read event this Saturday for children to develop reading skills with a supportive friend who won’t judge or interrupt.

Children and their caregivers who check in at the children’s desk will be able to read to a certified therapy dog for 10 minutes. They can bring a book from home to read or choose one in the library.

The program will run from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Nov. 19 at the Shelby Township Library in the Youth Program Room, 52610 Van Dyke Ave. This will be the third scheduled Paws to Read program of the fall. The last Paws to Read of 2022 will take place Dec. 3. The program will again be from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Those interested must call ahead on the day of the program to make sure that the library has a volunteer and a dog signed up for the time slot. The library’s phone number is (586) 739-7414.

Bethany Harnden is the children’s librarian at the Shelby Township Library who runs Paws to Read.

“We work with the Fur Angels, a Michigan-based group of trained volunteer handlers and their certified dogs. Many kids love dogs of all shapes and sizes, so we bring in a variety of breeds each time. Kids bring a book from home or pick one out at the library and spend time building confidence as they read aloud to the dogs. We started this program in September and, due to its popularity, plan to continue it monthly,” she said.

Jennifer Sunderhaus, youth services librarian, said Paws to Read is a program that the library has wanted to offer for a long time. With the library having moved into its new building this past June, the library now has the required space to host the program.

“We’ve had positive feedback from parents and caregivers about the Paws to Read program, and the kids love meeting and reading with the dogs. There’s something special about having a unique guest like these dogs in the library; everyone is happy to see them,” Sunderhaus said.

She said the library’s teen advisory board has expressed interest in having some one-on-one time with the therapy dogs around midterms and final exams, and she is hoping that is something that the library can offer in the future.