Volunteer to promote literacy

There’s a terrific project that gets kids excited about reading through their natural love of animals. The Horse Tales Literacy Project (formerly the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation) pairs little readers up with horses. The kids read Walter Farley’s Little Black, A Pony to horses at the Michigan State University Horse Teaching and Research Center on Forest Road near the MSU campus.

In addition, the kids visit interactive activity stations where they learn about various horse-related subjects such as horse nutrition, and tack and equipment.

If you’re free Tuesday, May 20 from 8:30 to 11, you can volunteer for an opportunity to be a part of this event. Volunteers will either hold horses as the kids read to them or they will help coordinate the activity stations.

Karen Waite, senior academic specialist in the MSU Department of Animal Science and the Extension Children and Youth Institute, coordinates the Horse Tales Literacy Project at MSU. Karen works closely with farm manager Paula Hitzler and the Friends of the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center to make the magic happen.

Karen said, “This is a great way to spend part of a day. The young people are very excited about reading to the horses, and for many it is the first time they have ever been on a farm. It is fun for all involved, yet educational as well.”

You can get a good idea of the kids’ reaction to the project by watching this video and this slide show both produced by Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications. They document the time in 2010 when 135 first graders from Discovery Elementary in Williamston took part in the program. Kids from Discovery will be back again this year as they have every year.

If you think this is something you’d like to be a part of, contact Karen at kwaite@msu.edu. Just a few hours of your day will make a difference in a child’s life.

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