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Karen B. London
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Paws to Read
Literacy improves when kids read to dogs
2nd grader Brian reads to Maizi

When kids read to dogs, the dogs don’t judge kids who are still learning how to read or those who may feel hesitant about their skills. Dogs don’t laugh or tease, either. That makes the experience of reading to dogs very different than reading when other kids, or even adults, are around. Kids become more confident and are willing to spend time reading when the listener is a dog. Practice results in improved literacy and increased confidence.

Last week, my oldest son Brian had the opportunity to read to a dog at our local library through Paws to Read, a program in which kids read to dogs. The dogs are all Delta-registered therapy dogs who listen to kids read, along with their handlers. In Flagstaff, Ariz., Paws to Read teams are in public school classrooms as well as at the library during the summer. It creates a positive, non-threatening situation in which kids WANT to read and have fun doing it.

I had not heard of Paws to Read until I saw the library’s list of kids’ summer activities, and I signed up immediately. Like most parents, I appreciate any way to keep my kids engaged academically during the summer. As a canine behaviorist, I love that kids get an opportunity to see dogs with good manners contributing to society.

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Hanna at Dog Pr... | August 7 2011 |

Unlike humans of all ages, dogs are never judgmental and they never, ever criticize or ridicule.

Getting kids to read to dogs actually serves two purposes. It forms stronger bonds between children and their pets as it gives children the practice they so need. While my kids complain about being asked to read, they are always glad to read to our dogs. So, I’ve stopped asking them to simply read. I now suggest that they read to their pets.

I also know someone who’s 7-year-old daughter participates in the Paws to Read program and her reading has improved tremendously in a surprisingly short time.

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