Reading out loud can be a tough task for any child learning the skill.
To make things easier, the Peninsula Humane Society has teamed up with local libraries to provide dogs for children to read to. The “Paws for Tales” program aims to boost kids’ confidence and skills in reading.
When reading in groups, children who tend to be shy and have trouble reading are quiet; they won’t develop those skills if they do not participate, Redwood City children’s librarian Jacky Averill said.
“Their peers will correct them if they say something wrong,” she said. “Because of that, they will not want to read out loud.”
When partnered with a dog, those shy pupils are not worried about those around them, Averill said.
“The dogs are multilingual, so they listen to whatever language read in,” she said. “And the dogs never correct them — with a new skill, that is a downside.”
The volunteer-run “Paws for Tales” has dogs once each month at Redwood City’s downtown library and also at the Redwood Shores branch. By March, Fair Oaks and Shaberg branches will also have dogs in the reading group, Averill said.
The program is also at San Mateo, Belmont and Foster City libraries.
Scott Delucci, director of the Peninsula Humane Society, said the dogs help children forget about their peers.
“They’re a nonjudgmental reading participant,” he said.
All dogs are owned by the volunteers; they are not shelter dogs because of the need for consistency in pets visiting children and the libraries.
“If we are doing our job right, our shelter animals are placed into homes quickly,” he said. “If we use them for volunteers we risk kids getting attached.”
Averill said another benefit to the program is the real time children have with dogs.
“Not all of these kids are able to spend time around animals,” she said. “So if they do not want to read to the dog, we encourage the kids to tell them a story and just spend time with it.”
Paws for Tales
The Peninsula Humane Society and local libraries have partnered to encourage children to improve their reading skills with the help of companion animals.
For dates and locations, visit www.peninsulahumanesociety.org/volunteer/therapy.html or call (650) 340-7022.