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The Horse Tales Literacy Project combines excitement from two different areas—horses and books. Throw in 120 local first graders visiting the Michigan State University Horse Teaching and Research Center, and you have the makings of elementary equine entertainment. Nine stops greeted the youthful visitors—everything from a farrier to tack to trailers.

The biggest draw for the scholars in the making on this field trip was the opportunity to read the book “Little Black, A Pony,” to the horses. “He was my very, very, very good friend. The two of us went all over the farm. We had fun. We went to see the other horses. We saw Big Red. My that horse could run!” stated a very good first grade reader.

Horse and book enthusiasts volunteered their time to hold the horses while the book was read. “Oh my gosh, it’s so critical for so many things. It doesn’t matter if the kids don’t fall in love and become crazy about horses. It would be great, it would be awesome—but just an interest in books starts so much in kids,” said volunteer Laura Probyn.

In the lower barn, Walter Farley’s book was read to several attentive horses. “We went on, a big tree was down—it was in the way. Big Red jumped right over the tree. To him, it was a just a hop!” exclaimed a very good reader.

The partnership between MSU and Williamston Elementary has been ongoing for several successful years. “It’s been a wonderful partnership,” said Shannon Coykendall, the Williamston RTC Coordinator. “They’ve been very welcoming to us and worked with us in terms of helping these kids learn more about horses, because they’ve been reading up on them. And to see the actual animal, it’s been a lot of excitement, which sparks more excitement in reading.”

Ehmpressions of MSU is a podcast devoted to all things Michigan State University produced by Kraig Ehm.

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