In the "Read-to-the-Dogs" program, elementary school children practice their reading skills by reading to specially trained dogs (like me!) and their handlers. Experience has shown that when dogs serve as "listeners," kids are more likely to read aloud, show increased confidence with their reading abilities, and are likely to continue to practice reading with their dogs at home.
For many kids, reading to a dog is less intimidating than reading to another person. Dogs do not judge you, make fun of you, or criticize your mistakes. And even the mere presence of a dog can help reduce anxiety, which helps young readers to learn in a relaxing, positive environment.
This program is especially great for me because the kids always ask questions. They want to know where I came from, how old I am, and what I'm like at home. They also ask about my goofy ears, the giant bump on my shoulder, and my big, broad shoulders (in the photo below, Mom is explaining my infamous bump, which the girls were asking about). So in addition to practicing reading, the kids get to practice compassion and understanding.
I love making new friends through the "Read-to-the-Dogs" program. Are you interested in volunteering, too? If you live in the Philadelphia area, check out Pals for Life, the group I volunteer with. They work with libraries throughout Delaware County. Hope to see you at the next visit!
PS: Nobody knows I'm deaf as a doorknob.....I'm still a fantastic "listener" and I'm even better with keeping eye contact!