Friday, August 24, 2012

PAWS for Reading: There's a lot to bark about

Macomb Daily file photo by David Dalton

Raise your hand if you're a parent trying to squeeze out the last of summer fun before the start of school? Uh-huh! Summer goes quickly and while camping and trips to the zoo are all great, wouldn't it be nice to find an event that your little ones love that continues into the fall?

Consider penciling in a visit to one of the area libraries offering the PAWS for READING program.

It's a unique program involving dogs that love children and can sit long enough for a child to tell them a story. Besides being enjoyable for the dogs - who love the attention – the program has proven to help children improve their reading skills.

"Dogs not only help children learn to read, they help children learn to love reading," said Michael Amiri, who co-authored with his wife, Linda, the children's book, "Shellie, the Magical Dog” (www.shelliethemagicaldog.com). "And that's true of children with and without learning disabilities."

Macomb County libraries have seen the results by way of happy parents and the return of young patrons looking to read to the dogs, and there have also been studies done on similar programs. A Minnesota pilot project called PAWSitive Readers found that trained therapy dogs helped 10 of 14 grade-school participants improve their reading skills by one grade level. A study by the University of California also showed that children who read to the family dog improved their ability by an average of 12 percent.

How do dogs help kids learn to love reading?

For one thing there's no risk of being embarrassed. "Most of us have memories of reading out loud in the class," said Michael Amiri. "Though we may have been proficient readers, the fear of stumbling on a word in front of everyone was a constant source of anxiety."
Dogs are known for their unconditional and nonjudgmental love and although  they might lick someone, they won't laugh if and when mistakes happen.

Dogs are confidence boosters.
"I never had a dog while growing up, which is too bad because I think I would have had an easier time gaining self-confidence," Amiri said. It wasn't until he became an adult and he and his wife became the owners of a very special Maltese, Shellie, that he discovered the many benefits of dogs. When visiting pet-friendly restaurants in their community, Shellie is often the center of attention - especially when she laps her water out of a martini glass or stands as a greeter at the local hair and nail salon. "If a little dog can give me, a grown man more confidence, imagine what it can do for kids," added Amiri.

Macomb Daily file photo by David Dalton
Dogs are great listeners. Energetic breeds like a beagle or Dalmatian might not sit still, but most dogs enjoy the sound of a calm voice speaking to them and the opportunity to curl up on a rug and listen to a story being read aloud. "They don't interrupt (except for the occasional ear scratch or to sniff something) and they often show appreciation for the attention," Amiri said.

Dogs make learning fun. Studying can have a bad rap with kids. To them it means spending long hours alone trying to work out problems or learn something they’re not interested in. "Interacting with a lovable, fuzzy friend for an hour of homework is an appealing alternative," Amir said.

It's a win-win situation. 

"A canine-student reading program is a great way to help service dogs-in-training learn patience and discipline," Amiri said. "Dogs are trained to help veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, the blind, and people who use wheelchairs, among them. These dogs in training help children, while children improve a dog's service abilities."

PAWS for Reading will be held at Clinton-Macomb Main Library, 40900 Romeo Plank Road, Clinton Township, starting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27. Children are invited to attend. Dogs are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Look for a sign-up sheet in the children's area of the library.

Looking for more family-friendly events and activities? Check out weekly list of happenings going on in the Detroit area below: 
Culinary event
Culinary Impressions and the Men’s Health Foundation have teamed up with Dorsey Culinary Academy to host a fundraising dinner to benefit the Foundation’s work in promoting awareness, education, research and treatment of prostate cancer and men’s health-related issues in southeastern Michigan. Join them for a five-course meal prepared by Metro Detroit’s up-and-coming chefs, Sept. 15. Tickets: $225 per person. Call Jeremy Abbey at 313-580-2823 or email chef.jeremy.abbey@gmail.com.

Voyageurs Encampment
Ste. Claire Voyageurs annual encampment, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 25-26, at Lake St. Clair Metropark West Beach in Harrison Township. Includes reenactment of lifestyles and skills of the era, displays, campfire cooking, music, dance, stories, lectures. Parking fee to enter Metropark. Call 800-477-3172 or 586-463-4332.

Fashion Show
“Sizzle with Style 2012” fashion show and luncheon presented by Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Anchor Bay Chamber of Commerce, check-in 11:30 a.m. Aug. 29, at Cherry Creek Golf and Banquet Center in Shelby Township, sponsored by McLaren Macomb. Tickets $25 chamber members, $35 non-members; to register, 586-731-5400 ext. 11 or 13, or www.shrcci.com.

Heron Festival
Heron Festival and Spring into Nature Celebration, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 25, at Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, 4101 River Bends Drive, in River Bends Park, Shelby Township. Fee $3 adults and ages 4 and older. Call 586-323-2478.

Activities at Wolcott Mill Metropark include “Top to Bottom” tour of the Historic Center, 2 p.m. Aug. 25, at the Ray Township park.

Heritage Days
Huron Pointe Sportsmen’s Association presents 17th Heritage Days, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 26, at the club on 28 Mile road east of Gratiot in New Haven. Events for kids include trout fishing, making arrows, painting bird houses, demonstrations by Michigan Military Technical & Historical Society, and more. Free admission; refreshments available. Call 586-598-8018 or visit www.huronpointe.org.

Puppet performance
Ever wonder how birds learn to fly? Join puppeteer Heather Henson on the Detroit Institute of Art’s front lawn Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m. for an interactive performance that explores the intangible spirits of wind and flight through puppetry and kiting. For more visit:The DIA

Anton Art Center
“Patriotism” exhibit, Aug. 26-Sept. 22, at Anton Art Center’s Petitpren Community Gallery, 125 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens. Free opening reception 1-3 p.m. Aug. 26. Center open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Call 586-469-8666 or visit www.theartcenter.org.

On stage
Warren Civic Youth and Teen Theatre auditions for “Seussical Jr. the Musical!”, the week of Sept. 4, at Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden.  For times, dates and to schedule an audition, call 586-268-8400. Performance dates are Nov. 2-4.
Ridgedale Players auditions for “Nuts,” 7 p.m. Aug. 26-27, at Ridgedale Theatre, 205 W. Long Lake road. Show dates are Nov. 2-18. For details, www.ridgedaleplayers.com.
Richmond Community Theatre auditions for Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” 7-9 p.m. Aug. 26-27, at the theater, 69619 Parker St. at Churchill. Play dates Oct. 19-21, 26-28 and Nov. 2-4. Call 248-762-6621 or visit www.richmondtheatre.com
St. Clair Shores Players auditions for “I Hate Hamlet,” 7-9 p.m. Aug. 27-28, at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 31601 Harper, St. Clair Shores. For details, scsplayers.org.
Farmington Players auditions for “The 1940’s Radio Hour,” Aug. 27, registration starts 6 p.m. at the theater, 32332 W. 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills. Play presented November and December. Call 248-553-2955.
New season at Broadway Onstage begins with “God of Carnage,” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. select Sundays, Sept. 7-Oct. 6, at 21517 Kelly Road, Eastpointe. For ticket information, 586-771-6333.
Stagecrafters presents “Legally Blonde – The Musical,” Thursdays-Sundays, Sept. 7-30, at the Baldwin Theatre in downtown Royal Oak. Advance tickets $18 Thursdays, $20 weekends; showtimes 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit www.stagecrafters.org or call 248-541-6430.
“Avenue Q,” presented by The Farmington Players, Aug. 25, at the Farmington Players Barn, 32332 W. 12 Mile Road, between Orchard Lake and Farmington roads. For tickets, $18 adults with discounts available, call 248-553-2955.

Library programs
“New Release Thursdays” at St. Clair Shores Public Library, 22500 11 Mile road, 6:30 p.m. first Thursday free viewing of movie in William R. Gilstorf Meeting Room. Also “Classic Movie Fridays in August,” 1:30 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 31, features showing of either classic or award-winning movies. Call 586-771-9020 or visit www.scslibrary.org.

Art & Apples
47th Art & Apples Festival for Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Sept. 7-9, in Rochester Municipal Park in downtown Rochester. Event includes pie-baking contest, entertainment, art, kids’ activities. For details, www.artandapples.com or 248-651-4110.

Tea Talk
Crocker House Museum/Macomb County Historical Society present “Tea Talk Tuesdays at Two,” 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 18 and Oct. 23, at the museum, 15 Union St., Mount Clemens. Events include historical programs, refreshments; tickets $7 Society members, $10 non-members. For reservations, 586-465-2488. Museum tours included.

Ford House
“Fairy Tales at Ford House: A Grimm Celebration” community art exhibit through Nov. 4, at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, 1100 Lakeshore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores. Related youth and adult programs continue into the fall; for schedule, www.fordhouse.org.

Meadow Brook
Summer tours at Meadow Brook Hall on the Oakland University Campus in Rochester, 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. A new architecture tour includes interior and exterior highlights of the design and construction process, 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; Behind-The-Scenes tours that include the staff wing are noon and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; each tour admission is $15 adults, $10 seniors, free ages 12 and younger. Twilight Tuesday 6-9 p.m. Aug. 28, $10 adults, free ages 12 and younger. Call 248-364-6200 or go to www.meadowbrookhall.org.

Summer sounds
The Mall at Partridge Creek and Motor City Co-op Credit Union present free daily outdoor concerts (weather permitting) at Center Court through Sept. 3, at the Clinton Township mall on Hall Road between Romeo Plank and Garfield roads. Performances are 5:30-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 4-8 p.m. Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays and holidays. For details, visit www.shoppartridgecreek.com.
Concerts/dancing at Lake St. Clair Metropark take place 6:30-10 p.m. Sundays through August; 5-8 p.m. through September. Music free with Metropark vehicle annual entry permit, $25 season, $15 ages 62 and older, or $5 daily. Visit www.metroparks.com or call 586-463-4581.
Wild Summer Nights concert series at Detroit Zoo, 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 29, in Main Picnic Grove; free with zoo admission. Guests can bring own picnics or purchase refreshments at concessions.

Park*it family fun nights under way in Macomb County at several parks. Activities start at 6 p.m., music 7:30, and movie at dusk. For schedule, visit Park It Family Fun Night

At the Zoo
Senior Day at the Detroit Zoo, 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, Royal Oak, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 5 for ages 62 and older, features music, tractor train rides, music, bingo, zoo talks. 

For details visit Detroit Zoo

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