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Proof PAWSitive That Pets Help Kids to Read

September 20, 2018

FITCHBURG -- Read books with some furry friends Saturday at Fitchburg Public Library.

“It’s a celebration of children’s literature, and with that we’re having therapy pets here so kids can have the opportunity to hang out with the pets or read to them,” said Nicole Irving, children’s librarian.

The Children’s Literature Festival will be held at the library, 610 Main St., this Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The theme of the festival is “PAWS to Read.” Children will have the opportunity to read with therapy pets from Be PAWSitive along with drawing cartoons, writing stories and a public presentation of work.

Be PAWSitive pet teams will be at the library at 10:30 a.m., followed by a panel discussion with visiting children’s authors and a writing workshop followed by a sharing of work. Strengthening Families will provide refreshments.

“Having a therapy-pet component provides an enticing detail that everybody responds positively to,” said Sally Cragin, director of Be PAWSitive and a member of the Fitchburg School Committee.

For the past three years, Be PAWSitive has brought therapy pets to Fitchburg Public Library on the first Saturday of every month so children can read a story to a therapy pet or be read to.

“We have a long history of collaboration with the youth library, and we are very proud of this relationship and the many children that enjoy reading with us,” Cragin said.

Cragin said all are welcome to visit with the pets.

“Reading to the pet does help children who are nervous to read out loud,” Irving said. “Children who may be shy or cautious about reading or writing will be inspired by visiting with the pets and will feel more relaxed.”

Along with some helpful pups, a few children’s authors will be part of the activities, including AJ Jarrett, Tom Crice, Ellen Rakatansky and student author Lillian Gottschalk, who is 12 and is a seventh-grader in Fitchburg. Her first book is titled “Hopefully.”

“We invited her to come and talk in the panel about what inspired her to write the book,” Irving said. “We’re excited to have an event for children to learn from others, as well as create their own work.”

All the authors will have a writing and cartoon workshop with the children, led by Cragin.

Jarrett is a widely published illustrator and writer who has recently been hired to write and illustrate a book for the library from a grant it received last year. He wrote and illustrated “Oshi Visits the Library” and “Otto and Jose Save the Library.”

Crice and Rakatansky are a husband-and-wife team who together created the children’s book “Birds of a Feather,” about how a boy finds a way to deal with a feeling of loss.

“I think it’s important that kids understand this is also a community center,” Irving said of the library. “I think they might not have the complete idea of what a library is and they might have the misconception that it’s just books or DVDs. “It’s nice to have programs that pull in books and other activities.”

Email juliasarcinelli@outlook.com if you have any upcoming events you would like to be featured in Best Bets.

Puppets

The Drawbridge Puppet Theater will feature “The Princess & The Pea” and “The Fisherman & His Wife” the final two weekends in September. These classic fairy tales, acted out with hand puppets, are appropriate for ages 3 and up. Show times are Saturdays and Sundays at noon. Tickets are $7, and reservations are recommended. For more information or to make reservations, visit website www.drawbridgepuppets.com or call 978-582-1578.

Festival

Celebrate all things Leominster on Saturday for the 25th annual Johnny Appleseed Festival. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and feature activities, food, games and more at Monument Square. It is free and open to the public. The Johnny Appleseed Homecrafters Fair follows Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kids

Enjoy two days of fun for the whole family at Wachusett Mountain’s 28th annual KidsFest. The festival will be open Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Wachusett Mountain, 499 Mountain Road, Princeton. Admission is $10 for adults, and $8 for ages 3-12. Festival packages for adults cost $18 each and $14 each for ages 3 through 12. Tickets can be bought online at wachusett.com .

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