You may have heard the famous Groucho Marx quote- "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
At St. Tammany Parish Library, we are putting dogs and books together with Love on a Leash and Read to a Pup. Children ages 5-9 visit their library at certain time to practice reading out loud to a dog and the dog's handler. The dogs are screened and trained therapy dogs affiliated with Love on a Leash and Angels on Paws. There has been a lot of research in the past few years on the positive effects on reading fluency and confidence when children practice reading aloud to dogs. Animals don't judge! The dogs are interested in interacting with the children and appear to be patient listeners. The handler gives gentle help when a child might stumble on a word. Parents wait away from the reading so the child is focused on the book at hand, and the dog. Of course there is time after the 15 minute session for pets, treats and photos.
“For children who feel insecure about their capacity to do things like reading, therapy pets bolster their self-confidence, which reduces their anxiety. Students feel self-conscious about reading because they’re afraid of being judged by students and teachers if they don’t do a ‘good job.’ But Stanley dismantles this fear for them. He makes learning joyful." How Reading Aloud to Therapy Dogs Can Help Struggling Kids b 13, 2017