It’s true, dogs can help kids learn to read. With the R.E.A.D program and others like it, kids practice reading aloud to encouraging doggie listeners.
Even though dogs can’t read, they still enjoy a good story. Just ask any of the trained pups across the nation who sit patiently and listen for as long as the early readers will read aloud. It’s all part of the innovative literacy initiative called Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.).
The program, held at public libraries, schools, and other locations, helps kids practice reading aloud by providing dedicated doggie listeners (aka registered therapy dogs). These special pups are trained to encourage young readers with a gentle nudge to keep going, or a paw placed on a page to give them support.
Dogs are more than good company
But there’s much more to this doggie dynamic than just good company. ABC News interviewed Francie Alexander, the chief academic officer at Scholastic, and she explains, “Kids have to practice, practice, practice to be good readers, and yet when you’re practicing if you make a mistake, it can feel risky or uncomfortable. But if you’re practicing with a dog, and the dog is nonjudgmental, you don’t mind making the mistake. In fact, you’ll probably correct it.”
Thanks to Intermountain Therapy Animals who launched R.E.A.D in 1999, countless young readers have benefited from their goal of “providing the first comprehensive literacy program built around the appealing idea of reading to dogs.” It’s just one more example of dogs enhancing the lives of people.
Taking a lead from these programs, why not tap into your dog’s excellent ability to listen patiently and unconditionally? Share his companionship with the young readers in your life, and we’re certain your dog will enjoy it just as much as they will.
Get all of the details about the R.E.A.D. program
Read the article from ABC News about the New York Library’s “R.E.A.D. with Mudge” program
Thank you to our R.E.A.D. for the photo.
Originally published September 2009; reviewed and updated September 2016.