Is your kid having trouble with reading? Maybe they should try talking to a dog! I know,it sounds silly. How could a dog possibly help someone learn to read? Well according to CNN, it’s a growing trend - and it seems to be working. Take Bailey. She’s a registered therapy dog who makes weekly visits to libraries and schools. She sits quietly or snuggles up to kids as they read her a book, and no - she’s not napping. She’s actually helping these kids learn. The philosophy is simple: Children who are just learning to read often feel judged or intimidated by classmates and adults, but reading to a dog isn’t so scary. It won’t judge. It won’t get impatient. It won’t laugh or correct a child if he makes a mistake. In a nutshell - dogs are excellent listeners, and for shy kids or slow readers, that can make all the difference.
Kathy Klotz is executive director of Intermountain Therapy Animals, which runs a nationwide program called R.E.A.D. - Reading Education Assistance Dogs. She says there’s another benefit of reading to dogs: confidence. A child feels like they’re helping the dog understand the story. They get to be the teacher, the storyteller. Of course, the children know they’re not actually teaching their furry friends, but the idea that they know more than the dog and can share their knowledge is a powerful one. Also, the kids always speak for the dog. For example, if a child doesn’t know a word - the dog doesn’t know it either. Then, the child isn’t alone – and they can look it up in the dictionary together. Klotz says it’s typical for the kids who read to dogs for just 20 minutes a week to improve their reading skills by a couple of grade levels in one school year. If you’d like to learn more about programs like these, check out the R.E.A.D. website at TherapyAnimals.org.