A fun way to encourage children to read is to allow them to read aloud to a friendly, nonjudgmental dog. Many libraries now offer this possibility with specially trained therapy dogs. Sandy Joseph, a librarian with extensive experience with this program, says “It is unbelievably motivating. I am amazed at how well the children read after five or six times. The dog isn’t judgmental or intimidating, so it boosts the child’s confidence, they forget about their reading limitations and their reading skills improve.” Even the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale Law School have brought in therapy dogs during finals to reduce student’s stress.
The Desmond-Fish Library has always had the mission to encourage in children a love of books, reading and learning. For the past year their “Tail Waggin’ Tutor,” Fredo, has been enthusiastically listening to children read on the second Thursday afternoon of every month. Fredo is a standard Schnauzer. Starting on Friday, April 20 at 3:30 p.m., Cobb, an Australian Shepherd who is a certified Delta therapeutic dog, will also be available to listen to children read on the first and third Fridays of every month. One child reads to the dog at time. Before the reading session begins, the dog’s owner will introduce the therapy dog, and review rules on how to interact with dogs. She will stay with the dog and the child. A parent must sign a parental release form for each child. Children should be between the ages of seven and ten, although younger children may be accommodated if their parent stays with them. The library has an ample supply of books the children can read from, or they can bring their own.
If you would like your child to have this experience, please call the library at 845-424-3020 to reserve a 15 minute interval on Thursday afternoons, April 12, May 10, etc. or on Friday afternoons, April 20, May 4, May 18, etc. You can reserve a time up to two months in advance. People who have not made a reservation will be accommodated if time permits.
Photo by A.Rooney