Kentucky Dogs Help Children Read
Thanks to KYPost for this article.
Library Goes To The Dogs .... Happily
For years dogs have played an important role in the lives of many. They can give eyes to the blind, friendship to the lonely and have even been proved to help lower blood pressure and stress levels.
Now man's best friend is also helping children learn to read.
The Kenton County Public Library is hosting "Puppy Tales" monthly on Sundays at the Erlanger branch and on Saturdays at the Covington branch. The Durr branch also hosts "Puppy Tales" in a series during the week.
The program, led by the Friends of Kenton Paw Park, is intended to help children practice reading without the stress of a human listener. Rather than read to their parents or in front of a class, they read to the dogs.
"Dogs have been found to be a nonjudgemental audience," said Julie Mills, the children's librarian at the Erlanger branch. "When the kids read to a dog, the dog isn't going to make fun of them or read the words for them."'
Mills makes sure that, although children are welcome to bring their own books, there are plenty of dog and puppy related titles set out to choose from.
"Most of the reading kids do is reading they have to do for homework, but we want them to know that it's something they can also do for fun," Mills said.
Reading to the dogs can also help reluctant readers enjoy reading.
"Sometimes we have open space and there are kids who are just at the library to use the computers, but when I tell them there are animals involved, they want to read," Mills said.
The program is aimed at children from first to fifth grade and can help any skill level be more comfortable.
"We are constantly raising the difficulty level of their books and it gets challenging," Mills said. "Reading to the dogs not only helps the child's reading abilites, but it also helps to alleviate the stress they associate with reading."
The dogs are provided by the volunteers with Friends of Kenton Paw Park. All have completed the Canine Good Citizen certification program. To complete the program, the dogs must demostrate their basic manners and ability to obey commands.
Some kids are monthly visitors to the "Puppy Tales" program and a few have even taken the program home with them.
"I have parents who tell me that their kids are reading to their animals at home and having their own 'Puppy Tales,'" Mills said. "I even had one family that said they were reading to the family Guinea Pig ... its the same concept, so whatever works."