“For children who are learning how to read, or who may not feel very confident, or who are just growing their reading skills, these critters are completely uncritical,” Children’s Librarian Sha Dishong said.
Children ages four to eleven are encouraged to practice their reading skills with the most patient and loving listeners: therapy dogs.
Even after a full day of school, these kids are eager to get back to their books.
“I love coming to Dog Days because whenever we read to them, it gives me the inspiration to keep on reading,” Riley from Marshpoint Elementary School said.
The program is geared toward early readers. They have the option to bring their own reading material or choose something from the library’s shelves.
Many of the children say the non-intimidating environment made them more comfortable when it came time to read in front of their class.
“What I see is an increase in confidence. We’re all here, the dogs are completely uncritical as I said but we’re also here as group cheerleaders. So we listen and clap so it’s a very very encouraging and supportive environment I think,” Dishong said.
Some of the kids who have been attending the program for years say their favorite part of the day is seeing their canine companions after school.
“So there’s Brady and Bella, Bella is always active, and Brady is usually calm,” Vincent from Marshpoint Elementary School said.
But the students aren’t the only ones benefitting from reading time. The dogs are taught how to be very responsive to kids, so they’re getting a chance to use their training— and they love the attention.
“I think they like being read to so maybe they can have a nice nap while they’re being read to like when you’re parents do,” Madison from Marshpoint Elementary School said.