Program has dogs helping young readers learn

DETROIT, Mich. (WDIV) — Collin Smith, 7, is sharpening his reading skills by reading out loud to his best friend, man’s best friend to be exact.

It’s part of the reader dog program at Grosse Pointe public libraries. Any student in kindergarten through fifth-grade practice reading to dogs. The reason why is simple, it’s less embarrassing than reading out loud on the classroom while they’re still learning how says Kate DeMeaster, Director Assistant of Central Library, “It’s also an environment that’s away from the school environment, so if they’re used to being frustrated in the school by reading, it’s a new space and a new way to try.”

“It helps me get smarter,” says Collin. He and his  5-year-old brother, Ronan, enjoy reading to their furry friends. And they make for great listeners too adds Collin, “Dogs are very good listeners and dogs are very friendly.”

The boys have their own dog at home, but these are special therapy dogs at the library. They’re better trained and calmer than your typical house pet.

The reader dog program is now in it’s 11th year and really taking off. Each therapy dog is accompanied by it’s handler. The child reader can bring their own book or read one from the library for a 30-minute period and the dogs sure do enjoy story time says DeMeaster, “The dogs absolutely know what’s going on. When they get here, they’re excited to come. They love to see all the people, whether it’s staff or the kids, they’re super happy to be here and they just love all the attention.”

Results show that as these students head back to school, they’re more confident in their reading skills and willing to participate in class. And, it helps make reading fun.

Copyright 2014 WDIV via CNN

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