A new initiative in libraries has been helping young children improve their reading skills. The program makes use of an endearing and lovable tutor as an audience for kids to read out loud to; namely dogs. This new way of helping kids is set about by the Tail Waggin’ Tutors international program. This program allows students who have trouble reading in front of other people to relax and practice their skills with an audience that will not judge or react from what they hear.
The new “dog-friendly” atmosphere makes use of the same principles used with therapy dogs. By sitting down next to a puppy and reading out loud to the dog, there is no fear about what the dog is hearing or how it will react. It relaxes the child and allows them to focus on reading instead of waiting for a feedback. Patting or petting the attentive dog also helps put the child at ease.
The Centre County Library in Bellefonte, in Pennsylvania, is just one of the libraries that make use of the program. One of the best “listeners” in their library is a black Scottish terrier named Faolin. There is also the Spanish River Library in Boca Raton, which makes use of four canine tutors that come in regularly and help kids with their reading.
“When they ask why the kids read to a dog, I say, because a dog is not going to correct them,” said Shilo Perlman, a library assistant in youth services. “We’ve heard from many parents who will say, ‘You know, my child will not read at home, won’t pick up a book. She’s afraid she’s going to make mistakes. But she will read to the dog.'”