Literacy and four-legged friends come together at Hays Public Library – Humane Society event

BY CORIE LYNN
PHOTOS BY TREVOR PFEIFER

At any given time, the Humane Society of the High Plains plays host to dogs and cats in search of their forever homes.

Throughout the year, volunteers are able to help take care of the animals, whether it’s through walking dogs or playing with kittens, but this past weekend, families volunteered in a unique way.

“We are inviting families and children to come pick some books from our basket or bring favorite books that they have from home and read to the animals, interact with the animals, maybe meet an animal they might want to take home in the process,” said Holly Ray, the Outreach Coordinator of the Hays Public Library.

The Hays Public Library first hosted the event, called Foster a Book, Adopt an Animal, last year to promote animal adoption and community literacy, including excitement for reading. According to Ray, the event was a success.

HPL library staff arrived at the Humane Society with baskets of children’s books and bottles of water for this year’s participants. Children and their families lined the halls of the shelter, waiting to pull up chairs in front of kennels of excited dogs or in the shelter’s kitten room, so they could read their favorite books.

According to Ray, the importance of library partnership extends beyond promoting literacy. Foster a Book, Adopt an Animal serves as an example of how the HPL exists for the community and its organizations.

“We are everyone’s library. We are Hays’s library, and that means that we have an obligation to bring everything that we offer at the library and increase access to our services throughout the community, and the best way to do that is to partner with all of the amazing community operations and institutions that we have in town, such as the Humane Society,” Ray said.

For Jessica Albin, a mom who brought her two boys to the Humane Society Saturday, reading to the animals serves another purpose. She sees it as a way for her children to learn to give back to their community.

“I just like giving my kids the opportunity to serve and just the opportunity to give of themselves and of their time, and they really like animals and reading so it just seemed like a good fit,” Albin said.

According to Ray, she hopes the biggest take away for each family is an animal, that it would inspire families to adopt. Like Albin, however, she believes there is a broader lesson for children to learn in reading to animals. Reading is enjoyable in any capacity and in circumstance.

“You can enjoy reading in a lot of other different environments and it can benefit all of the friends and community members that you might meet, including animals,” Ray said.

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