Library Program Helps Children Increase Reading Skills Using Therapy Dogs
2013-04-23 · By Editor
The Long Beach Public Library is implementing a program to help children increase their reading skills and self-confidence by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs.
“This program will be especially useful for students who might be uncomfortable reading aloud in class, but would still love to read to a non-judgmental, calming dog,” Mayor Bob Foster said. “Anything we do to promote literacy and a life-long love of reading among our young people will benefit them and the city as a whole.”
The therapy dogs will be provided at no-cost by Long Beach-based Beach Animals Reading with Kids (BARK), an all-volunteer non-profit organization. All dogs and their handlers are evaluated and certified as a therapy team, and are joined by BARK volunteers.
Councilmember James Johnson, 7th District, introduced the BARK program to Bret Harte Neighborhood Library in January 2012. On March 19, at the request of Councilmembers James Johnson and Patrick O’Donnell, the City Council approved a motion to make this a Citywide program.
A 2010 University of California at Davis study found that students increased their reading skills significantly after reading to dogs.
The program is beneficial for children who might be self-conscious about pronouncing or understanding a new word as they learn to read. The program enables youngsters to relax with a calm canine, and read aloud in a non-threatening environment inside a library community room. Participants will get special bookmarks that are individualized with photos and fun facts about the therapy dogs they just read to.
Library staff will select books for these one-on-one sessions, and also suggest books for families to check out and take home.
Currently, monthly programs are held at the Los Altos Neighborhood Library and the Bret Harte Neighborhood Library on the fourth Saturday of each month, at 11 am. The program will be expanded to other neighborhood libraries as resources and facilities become available.
The Long Beach Library has other reading programs, including Bookworm Buddies, Practice Makes Perfect and summer reading programs.