Critters

Critters: Learning to read with furry friends

Emily reads “How Rocket Learned to Read” by Tad Hills to Koda-the-Sidekick at a recent Reader of the Pack session at Orono Public Library.  CREDIT: Photo courtesy Stacey Coventry.

Emily reads “How Rocket Learned to Read” by Tad Hills to Koda-the-Sidekick at a recent Reader of the Pack session at Orono Public Library.
CREDIT: Photo courtesy Stacey Coventry.

By Debra Bell

Special to The Weekly

There truly is nothing better than curling up with a good book, especially when it’s about an animal. I remember growing up that some of my favorite books (surprise, surprise) starred animals. From “Misty of Chincoteague” to “The Incredible Journey” to the Lassie series (and many more) getting lost in a story was a great way to pass the day.

Literacy Volunteers of Bangor is holding their annual Literacy Tea from 3–5 p.m. on Sunday, April 2 at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor. And their featured book this year is, of course, animal related. Jeannie Brett, a beloved children’s author and illustrator, will be presenting her newest book, “My Cat, Coon Cat”.

Last year nearly 40 tables centered around different books. The annual fundraiser benefits Literacy Volunteers of Bangor.

As someone who dearly loves literature and appreciates the work done by Literacy Volunteers of Bangor to enable adults to learn to improve their reading, I decided that this year my pet photography business, in collaboration with Silent Sidekicks — an organization that uses trained therapy dogs to help children gain confidence in their own reading skills — would host a table at the Tea.

The book we’re centering our table design around is “How Rocket Learned to Read” by Tad Hills. Rocket is a small grey and white dog who learns how awesome reading can be after taking classes from a small yellow bird. The book is colorful and heartwarming with a great ending.

In honor of the tea and to encourage you, faithful readers, to dive into a good book this spring, here is a brief list of some of my 10 favorite pet-themed books:

For kids–teens:

  • “The Poky Little Puppy” by Janette Sebring Lowrey
  • “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls
  • “The Incredible Journey” by Sheila Burnford
  • The “Misty of Chincoteague” series by Marguerite Henry
  • “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” by Richard Atwater

For adults:

  • “Marley and Me” by John Grogan
  • “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot
  • “Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story” by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
  • “The Other End of the Leash: Why we do what we do around dogs” Patricia McConnell
  • “The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs” by Elias Weiss Friedman

If you’d interested in attending the Literacy Tea, tickets can be purchased for $20 at eventbrite.com/e/2017-literacy-tea-tickets-32437247681 or by calling 947-8451. If you come, make sure you stop by to see what Rocket has in store for his table. We’d love to see you!


Debra Bell is a freelance writer, graphic designer and the owner of Bell’s Furry Friends Photography (a division of Bell Imaging & Design LLC). Bell’s Furry Friends Photography has been named Bangor’s Best Pet Photography Studio in 2014–16. Debra and her husband Bill, are owned by a Maine coon cat named Olivia, a greyhound named Buddy and an angel greyhound named Laura. See her work and learn more about Bell’s Furry Friends Photography at bffpetphotos.com.

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