A love for reading is one of the most precious gifts that a child can receive. Reading is like magic. Poems, short stories, and novels can transport children to distant lands where great adventures unfold. The written word can inspire, comfort, and teach.
Unfortunately, reading is sometimes a tough skill for a child to master. There are too many reluctant readers. Parents and educators may find it challenging to motivate a child to pick up a book. Maybe this is one problem best left to the dogs.
PAWS to Read is a unique program which encourages youngsters to read. Paws to Read is a very simple concept: Children read to dogs. The dogs listen and don’t tease, laugh, or judge the child. After selecting a favorite book, the child is invited to sit and read to their furry friend. These gentle canines are amazing listeners. As a result, even the shyest child or reluctant reader is encouraged to improve their literacy skills.
The program facilitates the reading skills of children in a non-threatening, fun, and educational environment. Research shows there are many benefits. A child’s reading fluency and comprehension can improve. When a child is not constantly corrected by an adult, it helps with confidence and self esteem.
Sometimes children are partnered with therapy dogs from Pets on Wheels, like at Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD. Carla Hayden, Enoch Pratt’s Chief Executive Officer is enthusiastic about the program. She said “Children will be so encouraged to read especially when they are rewarded with these warm brown eyes and doggy grins. It will make such a difference in their reading experience.”
The PAWS to Read program is geared for children six to twelve years of age. And those are some lucky kids and dogs!
Photo Credit: Jamie Scott Lytle – Staff photographer, North County Times