Who Let the Dogs Out?
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 06:55
By Kristi Spuhler for LitLoversThese days
you never know what creature you might come face-to-face with in your local library. Many of us, it turns out, are meeting up with the furry canine variety. Woof. Therapy Dog
programs are popping up all over the place, aimed at encouraging struggling readers to find comfort—and pleasure—in reading aloud. The dogs provide a helping paw. Snuggling up
next to a canine buddy while reading is meant to help students build confidence in reading skills and generate enthusiasm rather than anxiety for library time.One volunteer
, offers 20-minute sessions once a week for young readers to relax and practice. During a session, a child picks out a book and, after a few friendly pats for the
furry pal, is all set to begin the story. It’s that simple. A dog
offers a friendly ear and no judgement. When students stumble over words in front of peers and teachers, it's intimidating. But dogs take the pressure off, letting young readers focus on the story and on improving their skills. The results
are remarkable. In a study conducted by Tufts University
, second graders who read aloud to a canine companion over the summer months retained their reading skills more effectively than those paired with a human buddy. Another study
by UC Davis in 2010, according to BARK
, suggests that kids in reading-to-dog programs improve their reading skills by at least 12% when compared to children not involved in these programs. A fuzzy ear and an encouraging nuzzle may be just what a struggling youngster needs!Have any of you
been involved in a program like this? Leave us a comment—we'd sure love to hear about it!