"Read to Dogs" is back at the Cedar Mill and Bethany community libraries.
The libraries are teaming with DoveLewis' Portland-area canine therapy team to offer virtual interactive reading sessions every week on Wednesdays at 2 p.m.. The program allows school-age children who are beginning or struggling readers to develop their skills in a relaxed, non-judgmental environment.
"Dogs don't criticize your reading," said Jenny Fleenor, youth services librarian. "They (also) don't correct, and they're just listening. For a lot of kids, it's soothing and not threatening."
Fleenor hopes the program can bring kids some of the normalcy they had prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's a little bit of outside contact, even though it's one more thing on a screen, which many of us are getting pretty exhausted from," she added.
Through PACTT, parents can reserve 15-minute reading sessions for their children with a trained therapy dog.
Kathy Loter, the program manager for DoveLewis' Portland area canine therapy team, says the canines work with libraries, in court rooms and any other facilities that need their services. Due to COVID-19, the program now offers virtual sessions, such as the ones offered through CMBCL.
"We usually have our spots full," added Loter. "The kids are just loving it. Most of them just dive right in and start reading their books, (and) they're very interactive with the teams as far as showing the stories and pictures to the dogs."
While working with multiple libraries since June, Loter says more than 1,200 kids have read out loud to a dog so far as part of the virtual program.
"Everybody has struggled with COVID, but you just have to make it work," she said. "You have to find a way to still reach out to vulnerable populations (such as) children who are challenged by being at home all the time. This is just our way of continuing to give back."
For more information about the "Read to Dogs" program, visit library.cedarmill.org/Events/Kids.
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