Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Paws for Reading
Winchester, The Writer has a new job for you.
I'm already a star. What more does she want from me?
The other day The Writer was in the library. She saw some dogs in the children's room. They were lying on the floor and children were reading books to the dogs! One boy leaned against a boxer as big as a sofa. The dog was listening to the boy's story. The Writer found out the dogs weren't ordinary dogs. They were part of a program called Paws for Reading. These specially-trained therapy dogs go into classrooms, school libraries, public libraries, even homes to help improve the literacy skills of children.
So what's the big deal?
Well, according to the National Assessment of Education Programs, kids who don't read for fun generally have lower reading scores than those who do. Some children are intimidated by reading aloud in a group. They are more willing to interact with an animal than a person. When they read to a dog, they forget about their limitations. School Library Journal has an interesting article on how children who were reading below grade level brought their scores up and enjoyed reading by being paired with a reading dog.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm not a dog.
That's the best part! You can be the first Paws for Reading cat! You and I will practice. There are even books I can read to you, like Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat and Three More Stories You Can Read to Your Cat, by Sara Swann Miller, with really cute illustrations by True Kelley. I may become a Reading Stuffed Animal. There is a book called Three Stories You Can Read to Your Teddy Bear by that same writer and illustrator.
How does this reading gig work?
I pick out a book and read it to you. When I say "The End," your handler gives you a treat.
Now you're talking! Start reading!
"Once upon a time there were three bears. Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. One day they went for a walk . . ." Oops, I missed a word. I'll start over. "Once upon a time there were three bears. Mama Bear and Baby Bear . . ." I messed up again. I'll start over. "Once upon--"
You'll never get to the end! You're doing this on purpose so I won't get my treat! I quit!