Dogs Help Kids Read
● By Rick McGarry
By Jessi Pressley
Is your child having a “ruff” time reading? New studies have shown that reading to dogs not only helps children improve their reading skills, but teaches them that reading is fun! Your child can sign up to read to a dog at Cromaine Library.
Tail Waggin’ Tutors is a youth program run out of the Library in Hartland, and it is designed to make reading easier and more fun for young children who struggle with reading or fear reading in class, by giving children the time to read to service dogs.
Michael and Linda Amiri, authors of a new children’s book called Shellie the Magical Dog, are advocates of the positive influence that a dog can have in a child’s life (http://www.shelliethemagicaldog.com/). They list four reasons why a dog is such a therapeutic reading buddy:
- Confidence: Amiri simply says, “If [my] little dog can give me, a grown man, more confidence, imagine what it can do for kids.”
- No embarrassment: One of the ways that a dog can give children self-confidence (in general, but for reading in particular) is that it never judges. A child’s fear of stumbling in front of the class vanishes when reading to a dog.
- Polite Listeners: A dog will never interrupt or giggle at mistakes, and Amiri says that dogs seem to enjoy curling up on a rug and listening to a story being read aloud.
- Fun Homework: Reading to a dog turns what used to be a tedious chore into a time of interaction with a friend.
At Cromaine, children sign up for ten to fifteen minute slots with a dog. The breeds include German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors. Every dog is accompanied by a handler, who remains silent while the child is reading. Ceci Marlow says that children see the relationship between the dog and the handler, and are able to enjoy being with the dog knowing that they are in a safe, supervised environment. Pre-registration is required; parents can sign their children up for a slot by clicking on the link on the Cromaine District Library Calendar of Events (http://evanced.cromaine.org/evanced/lib0/eventcalendar.asp /).