Some of you might know. S is a librarian.. so she is very much into promoting literacy to children and parents.. and you know.. getting the little monsters into reading.

So it was with great amusement that she heard of this very ingenious though common (in the U.S of A) reading program.

It's reading to dogs!

Heard of it?

Apparently, therapy dogs are sent to libraries with their handlers for pair reading with a child who might be not as comfortable reading to a peer or older person.

"The program is simple. For about 30 minutes each week, kids from five to nine years old read aloud to dogs of all shapes and sizes, from tiny Yorkshire Terriers to imposing Mastiffs. The canines' handlers sit nearby to help facilitate the interaction.

Martin says children are more willing to read to dogs than to their classmates, in part because kids who stumble over new words know their furry friends won't make fun of them. As a result, children's reading skills improve and their self-esteem grows." from Canine Companions May Help Kids to Read

Studies have shown that children and dog also bond over shared story book. Therapy dogs give the children the encouragement to read out loud. From St. Lucie County Library System Waggin' Tales Children Reading Program

Benefits to the Children

  • The dog's non-judgmental presence removes the stigma of the child's lack of ability to read out loud.
  • Studies have shown an increase in reading comprehension skills.
  • As reading levels increase, the child's self-esteem rises.
  • Studies have shown some students have increased their social skills even outside of the program.
  • Offers an opportunity to learn how to be safe around animals.

As reported in SF Gate.com

The benefits, as revealed by a small, preliminary study begun in 2000 at Bennion Elementary School in Salt Lake City, include improved reading scores, decreased absenteeism, improved confidence and self-esteem and a newfound willingness to get involved in other school activities. Several of the at-risk students in the study were honored for getting straight A's on their report cards.

"It gives them confidence," said Jones, who started the two-year push for Paws to Read in Pleasanton after attending a 1999 conference in Salt Lake City where the program's founding agency, Intermountain Therapy Animals, unveiled R. E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). "It removes the pressure of reading in the classroom. I think that element of reading as a chore disappears — and it's fun."

It was reported that "The kids are really convinced the dogs are listening to them," said ITA Executive Director Kathy Klotz.

A young boy recently told a handler he had scared one of the dogs. "How did you do that?" she asked.

"I read him a ghost story," he replied."

Needless to say, S dreams on having this program in the library.. and me being a therapy dog. But in Singapore, it may be a bit tough given that we are a multi-racial country and you'd have to be sensitive to other religions!

Oh.. and i promise not to nip irritating fingers and hands that wiggle in front of my nose!

kekekekkekekekekekek

Oh.. and Kua Cheng Hock, Independent Society of the Blind together with his guide dog, Kendra, went to S's library on Friday. It was great that the library allowed her into the building!! 🙂

FYI, here are some interesting sites to read up on

Reading Assistance Education Dogs

Hand-In-Paw

Canine Companions May Help Kids to Read

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