Paws for Reading with our Tail Wagging Tutors is a program sponsored by the Mason Public Library. It is the library and Therapy Dogs International’s version of a national program which is called “Paws to Read.” The initial premise of the program was to provide a non-judgmental listener for students who struggle with reading but we find that even fluent readers enjoy reading to the dogs. (We are also fortunate to have some Delta Dogs as well.)
Learning to read can be stressful but dogs do not mind if a reader stumbles over a word or pronounces it incorrectly. We are not striving for perfection but comfort with the act of reading itself. If a child is struggling with a word, the dog trainer will simply tell him/her what the word is but they will make no effort to teach the child reading strategies. To further free the child from stress of performing, usually only the child goes into the reading room with the dogs and trainers. There will be a minimum of two dogs and two trainers in the room. At this time we are able to provide 5 or 6 each time. The child earns a photo sticker of each dog he reads to, spending about 5 minutes with each.
In the June 2007 issue of Reader’s Digest under their section labeled “RDPETS,” there was a short article about reading to dogs. It read:
“…a second grader in Pleaseanton, California never liked reading – till a specialist suggested he read to dogs. After three sessions with Sammy, a cavalier King Charles spaniel, (he) had no further need of specialists. But he loved the experience so much, he still makes every session.
Dogs don’t have a judgemental bone in their bodies. They just gaze adoringly as they’re read to, a pretty effective technique for helping kids gain confidence and skill. The proof: For every year of reading to dogs, kids move ahead two years in school level. Says Paula Dalby, national team coordinator for the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), “The children are so excited to see them, and the dogs get petted and hugged, which is the stuff they live for. It’s a very positive environment.” (Article by Stephanie Gold)
For more information about Children Reading to Dogs, a website is provided by Therapy Dogs International: Tail Wagging Tutors. We sincerely hope that you will join us for this positive reading experience.