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Furry Friends Enjoy Visit, Reading At Escalon Library
Eva Miramontes enjoyed her time reading aloud to Patty the duck during Reading to the Rescue on Friday at the Escalon Library. Around the cage were many other youngsters excited to take their turns. Autumn Neal/The Times
Patty the duck tried to steal the spotlight as Sebastian Miramontes read aloud to her. After finishing his book, he made sure to pat her and depart with a “Thank you, Patty!” Autumn Neal/The Times

What’s better than spending a Friday afternoon reading to yourself? Spending a Friday afternoon reading to a duck, of course.

Several Escalon youngsters recently had the opportunity to read to rescue animal, Patty the duck, on June 14. This was part of the local library’s “Reading to the Rescue” program, in partnership with Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, which takes place the second Friday of each month. In August, they will be celebrating a year of the program.

As readers crowded around the pen that kept Patty from flying the coop, kids took turns inside the pen to read to her.

“This is Patty,” Christine Morrissey, Executive Director of the Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary said as she introduced this month’s visitor. “She was saved from a wildfire last November. If you take a little peek at her feet you’ll see she has third degree burns.”

Patty proved to be quite a lucky duck. Despite her blackened feet, she was very incessant on grooming herself during her afternoon out and about. While children sat and read to her, Patty was quite intent on quacking at them to prove she was listening and even tried to hog the spotlight every time a camera or cell phone was brought out to capture the moment.

“The animals we bring are very docile and socialized with people,” Morrissey explained, reinforcing that they were completely safe.

Though normally ducks can be considered hostile, Patty had imprinted on humans which was probably a huge factor in her fire rescue, Morrissey added.

Library staffer Amanda Clifford said they have seen quite an array of animals visiting the library over the past several months.

“There are typically smaller farm animals. We have had rabbits before, guinea pigs, and we even had a donkey before,” she reported. “Once we had a chicken and we let her out and she just walked through the shelves (at the library).”

One of the first kids that got the opportunity to read to Patty was Aaron Quinoz.

“This was my first animal I read to,” Aaron shyly admitted. “And I’m going to go into second grade.”

Though he didn’t get to read it to Patty, he said that his favorite book was Redstone Junior High.

Aaron then explained that he wasn’t scared of the duck at all and enjoyed his turn reading to her.

“She’s super nice,” Eva Miramontes added excitedly from the duck pen.

Aaron is a member of Book Buddies at the library. His tutor, Taylor Ewing, explained that students who are working on reading can come into the library and volunteers will read with them and do various activities. Aaron was lucky enough to be able to read with not just his tutor, but also a duck.

“We’ve been here for almost a year, monthly,” Morrissey continued. “We’ve gone to several other libraries in the county ... and have been doing this a little over two years and it’s grown by word of mouth.”

The Sanctuary is in French Camp and though they mainly serve the Stockton area, they’ve recently been expanding their services.

Clifford added that though it is normally elementary school ages that like to come in and read, all ages are welcome.

“We’ve had anywhere up to teenagers sitting in here reading,” she shared.

Because this program is offered on the second Friday of each month, July 12 will be the next opportunity readers will have to come in and practice. The Escalon Library is at 1540 Second Street and more information can be accessed via their website:

The library also hosts a multitude of opportunities, from a gadget clinic to a Teen DIY Studio to Preschool Storytime, there’s plenty of fun for everyone.