Friday, September 7, 2012

Reading to Dogs at the Library

Reading to Dogs

One of my daughter’s very favorite activities at the library is a program called “Paws to Read”. Volunteers bring their certified therapy dogs to the library, and are paired off with a child, and the child spends 20 to 30 minutes reading to the dog. At our library, the program is not ongoing, but has several sessions throughout the year, and my daughter watches the notices for when a new session is ready to begin to make sure I sign her up for a space.

The idea is that dogs are wonderful listeners. If the child is having difficulty with a word, or read awkwardly, the dog won’t care. It won’t correct them, or be disappointed in any way. Plus, kids love dogs. If your kid does not love dogs, these programs are not for you. They aren’t a way to get kids over a fear of dogs. They are just a way to encourage reading.

I’ve since learned that there are many different, but similar programs all over the bay, run by different groups. The groups I’ve found are:

Paws to Read

I expect there are others as well. If you know of another, please leave a comment. These programs are very popular at all the libraries I’ve seen them offered at. Usually, they are so popular that advanced registration is required to get a reading spot. The dogs and their handlers are all volunteers, and there are just so many to go around.

Various libraries work their dog reading programs in different ways. I mentioned that ours has several sessions throughout the year that usually run for two or three months. Each child can sign up for a maximum of 3 reading appointments during a session. I’ve seen other libraries that have an ongoing program on an assigned day of the week.

Not all libraries have dog reading programs, but they are becoming more popular all the time. I suspect, one of the factors preventing the programs from expanding is the lack of dog and handler volunteers. The dogs have to go through training and certification to be eligible. It’s a big dedication on the part of both the dog and owner to take part in these programs. If you have a friendly dog, perhaps you’d be interested in looking into the requirements at the program links listed above. 

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