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!


Becky said...

I love it. :)

ellsworth said...

The Writer will do almost anything to get rid of Winchester, even hire him out as a reading cat. She really wants one of those reading dogs!

Becky said...

I just noticed this and it's a wee bit off topic. But Ellsworth's small books--it appears they're tiny golden books--anyway, I had a set of those. I loved them when they came out. I used to have my Barbies read them to their kids. I even have a couple of posed shots I took later on. :)

ellsworth said...

You have sharp eyes. Those are tiny Golden Books. The Writer has a set, too. Right now Leonard Marcus' book
Golden Legacy, the history of Golden Books, is on the coffee table. The Writer decorated the den with old Golden Books and the tiny ones in a little basket with a tiny bear. Barbies reading books to their kids--that is so cute! And Barbie's kids probably behaved better than Winchester.

TamraW said...


How adorable is that . . . reading to dogs! The kids must love it, especially those who don't have a pet at home.

ellsworth said...

The SLJ article (I think) talks about a little girl who brought her reading level up by reading to a dog. Her parents were going to get her a dog so she could read to him every night. How great is that?

Kakie said...

Great post. What a creative idea. Unfortunately I didn't make Carnival this month, so March will make it time to take action.

Warmest Regards,
Kakie Fitzsimmons
Co-Author: Bur Bur and Friends Children's book series

ellsworth said...

Kakie, The Writer made a mistake about the boxer in the library--it was really a mastiff! He was bigger than a sofa! The Writer is envious of your interactive website. Thanks for dropping by!