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Kids & canines book clubs make for dog-eared reading

Alexis Dorey, 11, reads at home with her dogs Charlie (left) and Gizzmo. Alexis is taking part in a new Humane Society book club.

Alexis Dorey, 11, reads at home with her dogs Charlie (left) and Gizzmo. Alexis is taking part in a new Humane Society book club.

Alexis Dorey is lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with wolves as her only companions.

The fifth-grader at Holladay Intermediate Magnet School in Tucson is vicariously living the life of a 13-year-old Eskimo girl in “Julie of the Wolves.”

The book is the first selection in the Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s new Dog Gone Good Book Club. The free program is open to kids ages 10-14. The Humane Society is registering readers now for the book club’s first meeting Feb. 28.

Alexis is racing through the pages, eager to see how Julie survives.

“It’s amazing so far,” the 11-year-old said of the fiction book, written by Jean Craighead George in 1972.

Alexis loves to read with her dogs nearby: Gizzmo, a 5-month-old Shih Tzu and Charlie, a Wheaton terrier mix. She said the club is perfect for her, combining her loves of reading and animals.

Her heart especially goes out to homeless animals. “I like how the Humane Society rescues everything from geese to turtles,” Alexis said.

Heather Dorey said the book club and other programs for kids at the Humane Society are ideal for daughter Alexis, who wants to be a veterinarian.

“We got her involved to get her exposed to animals,” she said. “The book club is perfect because she loves to read.”

Heather Dorey predicts the program will inspire kids to read.

“It gives kids that might not be very interested in reading an opportunity to read for fun and to get together and talk,” Dorey said.

Said Alexis’ dad, Blake Hall, “I think it’s good to get involved just to learn basic animal responsibility.”

Through the book club, kids can discuss their thoughts and feelings about animal-related topics found in fiction, nonfiction, documentaries and current events, said Inge Koopman-Leyva, manager of children’s programs at the Humane Society.

The book club, which meets every other month, can help kids understand the importance of caring for animals, she said.

“Kids are sitting in front of TVs and video games too much,” Koopman-Leyva said. “The purpose of the club is to encourage kids to read, and what better way than to bring animal lovers and book lovers together?”

For more information, call 881-7405 or go online to www.hssaz.org.

Story Time for Pets

Reading out loud can be pretty scary stuff for some young children.

So why not try reading to a dog?

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona is launching Story Time for Pets on Feb. 28, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The program is for children ages 5-9.

“It’s to encourage kids that are shy about reading out loud,” said Inge Koopman-Leyva, manager of children’s programs at the Humane Society.

A dog is never judgmental and is always a good listener, she said.

Kids can read books about animals to a therapy dog that is accompanied by its trainer, as well as listen to stories. The free story time will meet every other month at the HSSA Education and Cruelty Prevention Resource Center, 3402 E. Kleindale Road.

For information and to reserve a spot, call 881-7405 or send e-mail to ikoopmanleyva@hssaz.org.

Megan Curtis, 5, reads to therapy dog Boomerang, a 3-year-old Australian cattle dog, at the Himmel Park Library. The Humane Society is starting a similar program this month.

Megan Curtis, 5, reads to therapy dog Boomerang, a 3-year-old Australian cattle dog, at the Himmel Park Library. The Humane Society is starting a similar program this month.

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IF YOU GO

What: First meeting of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s Dog Gone Good Book Club, for ages 10-14

When: 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 28. Sign-ups are ongoing.

Where: HSSA Education and Cruelty Prevention Resource Center, 3402 E. Kleindale Road

Price: free

Info and registration: 881-7405 or ikoopmanleyva@hssaz.org

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SUGGESTED READING

Some popular animal books for children, recommended by the Pima County Public Library:

Ages 5-9

• “Officer Buckles & Gloria,” by Peggy Rathmann

• “Dear Mrs. Larue: Letters from Obedience School,” by Mark Teague

• “Eight Animals Play Ball,” by Susan Middleton Elya

• “Splat the Cat,” by Rob Scotton

• “Skippyjon Jones,” by Judy Schachner

• “Tacky the Penguin,” by Helen Lester

• “Way Out in the Desert,” by T.J. Marsh & Jennifer Ward

• “Wild about Books,” by Judy Sierra

Ages 9-12

• “The Black Stallion,” by Walter Farley

• “Catwings,” by Ursula K. LeGuin

• “Hank the Cowdog,” by John R. Erickson

• “Julie of the Wolves,” by Jean Craighead George

• “Shiloh,” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

• “Warriors, the New Prophecy” (series), by Erin Hunter

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