By Ally Ruchman, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School
Wally is an overachiever. Working one volunteer job isn’t enough! He has a second, at the local public library. When he arrives at the library, it’s as if the big Kahuna has stopped by. All of the children are sitting in a circle, books in hand, poised for action. Some children like to demonstrate their strong reading capabilities and are quick to start reading. Others watch and smile and as time marches forward, they gain confidence to read to Wally.
Children with special needs relish the opportunity to be with Wally. He relaxes them in a manner that parents and teachers can’t. It is as if he has given them a magic pill and then they are able to read more fluidly. Wally senses their concerns and often places his head on their legs or sits next to them as they work through sentences.
Most children tend to select books about dogs to read to Wally. They think that he understands the words and topics and can relate to dog books. Who knows if Wally understands their words? What is evident is that Wally lounging at the library creates confidence. Intimidation and impatience evaporates. The result is that children develop stronger literacy and communication skills.
Ally Ruchman is a junior at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in Rumson, NJ. She loves animals, reading, science, and traveling.