Students at De Anza Elementary School thought Bella, the cocker spaniel sitting on the classroom floor, was just a cute dog to pet and hug Wednesday. They didn't know her wiggling body and happy barks were actually ploys to get them to read more.
Along with a rabbit named Fuzz Lightyear, Angel the chicken and a white cockatoo called Casper, teachers at De Anza used animals Wednesday to spark students' interest in books.
As part of the Reading is Fundamental program, students at De Anza receive one free book three times a year. Since Wednesday's give-away featured several animal-themed books, organizers thought it best to bring animals into the classroom.
"The kids are really interested in the animals," said Kristin Cortes, a third-grade teacher at De Anza and one of the coordinators of Wednesday's book distribution.