Reading goes to the dogs at shelter

Published 8:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2023

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They say that dogs are a person’s best friend, and reading is essential for kids’ growth.

One group of individuals has found a way to combine both.

The local LRL Book Club recently read to dogs at the Clark County Animal Shelter.

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“I made it a book club for kindergarten through fourth graders,” said Renee Craycraft, who helps run the group. “Most of the girls that go to the book club love the dogs. They love pets.”

LRL Book Club got its name from Lakeynn Williams, Riley Cracraft, and Lilly Cracraft – three of the group’s original members.

Other members of the group are Audree Rollins and Kensi Fish.

Two high school students – Dakota Craycraft and Shelby Couch – also assist.

The group, which has met at places such as Starbucks and Cupcake Apothecary, first met with a focus on improving reading skills and has since developed.

“I have gotten authors to sign books for us,” Craycraft said. “It’s just in order to help them gain confidence in themselves.”

Regarding seeking to help animals, it’s a subject close from the girl’s hearts, as one has a parent working with a local pet adoption agency.

The girls took time to read to the dogs using two books: “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn and “Jake and the Biggest Yawn Ever!” by Chris Hardy.

While the former features a mother raccoon comforting a child raccoon by kissing its paw, the latter deals with a dog named Jake indirectly causing everyone to yawn after starting the process.

Though Jake in the children’s book is fictional, the character is inspired by real-life events.

“The reason I chose the book is because Jake was actually a stray in California with the author,” Craycraft said. “Jake’s owner had passed away, and he lived on the streets for a while. A friend of [author] Chris [Hardy} adopted him, and then when her friend had passed away, they just automatically went and adopted Jake.”

The group was sure to go to the Clark County Animal Shelter with some treats.

Cupcake Apothecary provided special sweet treats that the dogs could enjoy.

As the children read to the dogs, the presence of food served as a motivator.

“It was so cool…as soon as the dogs [saw] that there was a treat, they actually sat down and listened”, Craycraft said. “While the girls were reading the books, they were handing the treats out to the dogs, so they sat right there, and they calmed down right along with the girls.”

Unbeknownst early on, one of the dogs was deaf.

However, the canine made sure to fill up.

“It made me laugh…he barked really loud because he had seen there was still a treat laying there, and he wanted that treat”, Craycraft added. “I’m like, ‘well that’s his way of knowing… there’s still one there.’”

While reading was an adventure, Craycraft shared a message for the readers.

“We had talked to the kids [how] most of the mutts that you get from a shelter – the mixed breed – they make great dogs and pets”, she said. “They know that you came and you chose them…they changed you too.”

While the girls have shown interest in holding a book club twice a week, the opportunities are as much entertaining as educational.

“I have a few of them that struggle with reading…it didn’t bother the animals, and it gave them a little bit more confidence of reading out loud”, Craycraft added. “That’s what I like because I don’t want to discourage…the kids.”

The LRL Book Club can be found on Facebook under a group name by the same title.