Book best friends: Library offering therapy dogs to encourage young readers
Kids will soon be able to read to dogs in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's
It's not always easy to get children to sit down and pick up a book, but the library in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's is hoping a furry audience will be just the encouragement they need.
The library is introducing a new program, called "Paws 4 Stories," in which kids will be given the opportunity to read to a therapy dog for 15 minutes a week.
It's something that librarian Elyse Sparkes Coombs — who ran a similar program while working in Halifax — says can make kids more comfortable readers.
"I had phenomenal transformations. When we started the program, I had children who wouldn't read out loud, wouldn't read period, and sat there for the 15 minutes," she said.
"They start to like books, they like reading, and they become really good solid readers, which is just so important.".
Dogs are great listeners
The great thing about having a dog for a reading buddy is that they listen, but don't judge.
"You get to talk to a dog, who's not going to correct you if you stumble over a word, or if you're unsure of a word, or if you make up the story instead of sticking to the book," said Sparkes Coombs
Reading to dogs was an idea that was started by the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs program in conjunction with local libraries in other parts of Canada.
Paws 4 Stories has been in the trial stage in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, and will officially begin Sept. 19.
Six spaces are available for the first round of the program, which will include one session per week for six weeks. Contact the library directly to apply.
With files from the St. John's Morning Show and Maggie Gillis