The stereotypical animal that is often associated with libraries (and librarians!) is the cat. And here at CMLE, we definitely love cats. But dogs can be even more helpful when it comes to libraries, and reading in general, especially when it comes to teaching literacy to kids.
This adorable Tweet sparked our curiosity. Just how much do dogs help kids with their reading skills? We also wondered where else in our area might dogs be interacting with kids, students, books, and libraries?
First, we discovered just how helpful dogs can be when it comes to assisting kids with their reading skills. This article from Public Libraries Online shares research done that states, “Children who read to dogs improved their own reading skills in comparison to children who did not read to dogs, based on the results of the Oral Text Reading for Comprehension Test” and even “reported a greater enjoyment of reading than children who did not read to dogs.” When kids are able to practice their reading skills out loud to a patient, non-judgmental listener (like a dog!) their reading improves, and just as importantly, their love of reading grows!
The organization Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) Minnesota works with “registered therapy animals who volunteer with their handler as a team, going to schools, libraries, and many other settings as reading companions for children” in order to help kids with their literacy and communication skills. Their site explains ways you can help the organization, and even how to become a READ team with your dog!
For real-life inspiration, we found a few instances of dogs and kids enjoying reading together. This article from MN Women’s Press tells the story of Lesa Hobright-Turner and her READ dog, Murphy, and their impact on a little girl with ADHD. The Hibbing Daily Tribune featured this article about kids reading with dogs at Keewatin Elementary school. The Rochester Public Library has the program “Sit, Stay, Read” that takes place the fourth Monday of the month from September – November. Finally, the Two Harbor’s Public Library has a program “Read to a Dog” that takes place on Fridays, featuring Lucy the dog:
We’re sure there are more programs out there, and would love to hear about them! Do you know of, or participate in, any activity that features animals helping kids with their reading? Let us know!