What’s better than settling in with a good book? How about reading one with your classmates and kids in classrooms across the nation? Better yet, with a rescue pup! This is exactly what we did on World Read Aloud Day!

Though we were in the Bronx with our friends at The Walton and Lucero Elementary School, we opened our arms to any school or library across the nation that wanted to join us via Zoom. And they did! From the east coast to the west coast and north to south, we were all so excited to welcome old friends and new ones.

Together, we sat for a time to share a story and talk. Connect. As we read Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix, we shared our predictions on what was to happen. We discussed the journey of Buddy along the way. We shared our feelings on what transpired. We observed the actions of the characters, what they were doing and asked: were they being kind? What would you do in this situation? The students were engaged and thoughtful as they predicted and problem solved as they followed Buddy’s journey. They demonstrated insight and profound clarity that resonated for both the students and the adults.

This educational experience provided a unique opportunity for students to come together from across the nation. This Mutt-i-grees Program was an opportunity for students to connect with students from different places and backgrounds. A way to meet, discuss and share ideas and perspectives. I had the chance to ask questions and talk about why the story was important to them and how they can advocate for homeless animals.

Through the metaphor of stories, children can explore places, ideas and feelings, and begin to build perspective on the world around them. Stories provide a safe platform for discussion where a child can relate to a character or scene and speak about oneself without the focus being on themselves. It allows one to pose the question “What if?” and predict: “What will happen next?” while building critical thinking skills. Stories inspire us! We certainly were inspired by all of these wonderful, curious and smart students across the nation!