Early readers need encouragement, not judgement. And what’s more reassuring than a wagging tail, sweet puppy dog eyes, and a rapt audience that will never utter a discouraging word?
Nothing that we can think of. And that’s exactly why innovative programs across the country are bringing man’s best friend into schools and libraries for reading lessons. The well-trained, albeit furry, audience members give kids an outlet for their newfound phonics, and the pooches — with their toddler-like need for attention — lap it up.
In Augusta, Wisconsin, the Tail Waggin’ Tutors visited Augusta Elementary School, giving children 15-minute stints to read to a pooch. “We look for every possible way to motivate kids to love to read,” reading specialist Nancy Forseth told the local Leader-Telegram. “Who doesn’t love dogs?” Clearly, most children, as some 90 kids signed up for the program, she said.
In Anchorage, Alaska, through the Pawsitive Reading Program, pets visit a local library once a month, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The kids don’t even realize they’re working and learning sometimes. “She thinks she’s helping the dogs to read,” one mom says, of her precocious tyke.
The added bonus? (Beyond the reading thing, that is.) Shy kids, and those fearful of dogs, slowly start to come out of their shell.
For both dogs and their owners, these programs are staffed solely with volunteers. But for those involved, the petting, hugs, and smiling kids are certainly payment enough.
Plus, who can resist the photo from the Kasson, Minnesota, Post-Bulletin of a kid reading the modern classic adventures of Pete the Cat to an attentive, dog-show-worthy border collie?
Certainly not us.