Old MacDonald’s farm animals hit the books

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Kian Ellis, age 3, is amused by Charlene the chicken

On Oct. 11, Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary teamed up with Barnes and Nobles to host a Read to the Animals of Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary event.

This event is part of several other events hosted at Barnes and Nobles to promote literacy and compassion for animals.

In the children’s section in the bookstore, there was a small pen where children could sit and read to animals.

“It’s a really fun way for kids to practice reading and to have an audience that won’t judge you,” said Christine Morrissey, an executive director of the sanctuary.

The goal of the event was to help local children become better readers while at the same time spreading the word of the sanctuary’s work in rescuing animals.

“I think it’s great. The kids come together in a safe environment and it brings the kids together to try something new, with exposing them to literacy,” said Nicole Peterson, an early Head Start teacher in the San Joaquin County. “Reading out loud is great for developmental reasons because you get to hear what you’re saying and you get to add character to your reading and express what you read out loud.”

Chin Feng, whose children are enrolled in Peterson’s program, added to the sentiments.

“I think it’s good. A lot of kids live in the city, and they don’t have a chance to see the animals, they don’t usually get a chance to interact with them,” said Feng.

The animals at the event on Wednesday were Spencer, a rescued duck from the streets of Fremont, Charlene, a Silkie chicken also from the streets of Fremont and Peach, a survivor from the Stockton Animal Shelter.

“Kids are really shy of reading…when they read to the animals, it helps them and the animals actually like it,” said Cheryl Billodeau, who has been volunteering for the sanctuary for a year and a half. “We want to show  children at a young age that you can be friendly with the farm animals, and to always treat them compassionately so they can have a good life.”

Tied to this event was a book signing on Oct. 10.

The book is titled, ‘Unstoppable’ and it’s a collection of stories about rescued animals and how they receive a second chance at life with the help of a wheelchair or artificial limbs.

These two events are tied with a book fair that’s currently going on at San Joaquin Elementary School through Oct. 22.

“We are encouraging people to buy an animal themed book, there’s a selection to pick from, they buy the book, it’ll [the money] will be donated to San Joaquin Elementary and we get a percentage of that so it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Morrissey.

The Animal Sanctuary has many different events scheduled throughout the year.

Some upcoming events are a ‘Pig-nic’ for the Pigs, Toast to the Turkeys and a Turkey Trot.

The Sanctuary also does tours and events. The sanctuary is also always looking for volunteers. For more information, you can visit harvesthomesanctuary.org or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at Harvest Home.