Man's best reading buddy

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First aired on Points North (30/04/12)

The public library in Sudbury, Ontario, has teamed up with a therapy dog group to give some kids a chance to read to a furry friend.

Monique Roy, the Greater Sudbury Public Library's children's librarian, is a dog lover herself and has owned a therapy dog. She had been looking for a way to combine that part of her life with her passion for youth literacy. Thus began Reading Tails, a program to help kids aged 6 to 12 improve their reading skills by reading aloud to canine companions from Magical Paws Pet Therapy.

"Kids seem to react to the dogs a little bit better," Roy told the CBC. "The dogs listen, they don't comment, they don't critique, and the kids feel like they're gaining something. And also, they feel a connection with the dog -- that they're reading to the dog, they're doing a service to the dog. So they just feel better."

Margaret Julian has recently started bringing her seven-year-old smooth-haired Daschund named Liesl (named after the character in The Sound of Music) to the program. She believes reading to dogs relaxes children and is an enjoyable way to improve literacy.

"They can concentrate, and they can have fun at the same time. I have as much [fun] as they do, I think. I always have a laugh when I come here."

David, a young boy who is taking part in Reading Tails, loves petting and cuddling with Liesl during reading sessions. A reporter asked him whether reading to a dog was different than reading to his mother.

 "Yes, because mom doesn't bark," he said.

Do you have creative ways to make reading fun for children? If so, please share them in the comments section below.



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