Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

Puppies and Literacy

Meet Zeke! He is a mutt with a love of reading, kids, tiny stuffed vegetables and cheese.

Zeke, Jeanne and friend reading together. (photo courtesy of Erin Lovelace)

At my library we offer a Paws to R.E.A.D. program. If you aren’t familiar with the program it is an opportunity to read aloud to a trained therapy dog. The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as literacy mentors.The dogs that serve our area come from a local therapy dog organization called Sprite’s Hero. Zeke and his human, Jeanne, visit us three times a month in addition to their regular visits to one of our local Elementary schools.

Zeke and his mom offer a warm and judgement free space for kids to read. But it isn’t just reading and literacy skills that Zeke has a positive effect on. We serve many kids with Autism, behavioral challenges and developmental delays. This amazing pup is able to disarm them all. Their walls come down and they open up so quickly. A regular who has pretty limited verbal skills was in the library one day when Zeke was visiting. I asked if she wanted to meet my friend Zeke, I wasn’t sure what to expect but she was instantly engaged. I heard her say more words in ten minutes with him than in the six months she had been visiting the library.  She was so comfortable! She isn’t reading on her own yet but with a little guidance she told Zeke all about the pictures in two books. This magical moment was just one of many we have seen in the time we have been offering the program.

If your library doesn’t have a program like this yet you can find more information and locate an organization in your area who participate in the R.E.A.D. affiliate program.

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Erin Lovelace is a Children’s Library in Virginia and a member of the Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee.

 

 

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