Reading tales with tails
This summer, young readers will have a chance to both improve their reading skills and make a new four-legged friend by attending the reoccurring Read to the Dogs event at Hillsboro's Brookwood Library.
For many young readers, reading aloud to peers or adults can be an intimidating and anxiety-producing activity. Stumbling over the pronunciation of new words and taking long pauses in the middle of reading a sentence to figure out a previous mistake can often make struggling young readers feel self-conscious about their abilities.
Noticing the anxiety that can accompany timid young readers, local libraries partnered with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Dove Lewis Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams and Pet Partners to create Read to the Dogs, a weekly program that brings in professional therapy dogs to sit in a private reading session with a young reader at their local library.
"Our goal with the program is to encourage young readers to improve their skills by creating a safe space where they feel comfortable reading," said Brookwood Library Supervisor Elizabeth Lopez.
Over the past five years — the program started in 2014 — "We've seen some kids really come out of their shells," Lopez said.
Although people are accustomed to seeing therapy dogs serving older adults, therapy dogs are increasingly being brought into educational settings in order to serve young students. "The dogs are able to change the feeling of a room," said Lopez. "With their encouraging smiles and positive attitudes, the dogs turn the spaces they are in to feel calmer and more relaxed."
After making a reservation through a participating library's events calendar, young readers are invited to either bring a book from home or to pick a book from the children's section of the library for their private reading session. Once they arrive to a Read to the Dogs appointment, "We try our best to match
kids with dogs that fit their personality," noted Lopez. Each session lasts about 20 minutes.
Beginning June 13, Hillsboro's Brookwood Library will host Read to the Dogs events every Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30p.m in the Storytime Room. In addition to the Brookwood Library, the Read to the Dogs program can be found in libraries across Multnomah County.
To make reservations visit: wccls.bibliocommons.com/events/search/index
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