Libraries are often a quiet place where both children and adults can research a topic or find a good story, but when children or adults visit a library and see a dog, the environment may become a little more exciting.
Therapy Dogs International’s “Tail Waggin’ Tutors” program encourages children to read by providing a non-judgmental listener and furry friend to read to that won’t laugh at them if they make a mistake or stumble over a word, but rather lie next to them and enjoy the story being read to them. The children learn to associate reading with being with the dog, and begin to view reading in a positive way. Over time, the child’s reading ability and confidence can improve because they are practicing their skills, which will make them enjoy reading even more.
Libraries have had great success by utilizing “Tail Waggin’ Tutors” as part of their Summer Reading Program or After-school Program. While the program was initially developed for struggling readers, even those who can already read well don’t want to pass up the chance to read to a Therapy Dog. Even the parents seem to get a real kick out of their child reading to a dog, and they certainly welcome the idea of their son or daughter being so excited to go to the library on a Saturday!
In a library, the reading sessions usually take place in a quiet, comfortable area. The child picks out a book that he or she would like to read, and sits down next to the dog and handler and start reading. (We often find that the book is one the child thinks the dog would enjoy!) The visits are often short, but the impact lasts longer than just the session, as the child may be more likely to read on his or her own.
Reading is a wonderful opportunity for a child to build his or her imagination and begin to build skills for his or her future. Libraries are a wonderful resource, and Therapy Dogs can be a great way to help children discover how much fun their local library can be!