Rover Helps Kids Learn to Read in "Paws" for Reading Program - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/29/03

Rover Helps Kids Learn to Read in "Paws" for Reading Program

The dogs are part of a program called "Paws for Reading." And the name pretty much says it all. With a twinkle in their eyes and a wag of their tails, these cute canines are getting kids to hit the books.

Eddie is a prize winning pooch.

"We train for AKC obedience trials and just for fun," says Eddie's trainer, Sheryl Nichols.

But he's also an above average listener.

"He's a four year-old Shetland Sheepdog, and (Saturday), we're at Groves with the new reading program where the kids read to the dog to gain confidence in their reading ability," says Sheryl.

He, along with his canine companions, are with the South Plains Obedience Club. On Saturday, along with their trainers, they're helping children like Meagan read without barking a word.

"Mostly, it's dogs that are trained to be calm and obedient around children," says Sheryl.

Eddie and his friends are trained therapy dogs and little bundles of love. They bring joy to nursing homes and cheer up kids in the hospital, but their only task on Saturday is to sit and listen with a cute face, and it's not long before they persuade kids to crack open a book and read.

"I started doing research on the internet and tried to find dogs that were trained to listen to children read. The purpose of the program is to get children that have a hard time reading to read to the dogs without any interruptions," says Sonia Herrera, director of Children's Programs at the Groves Branch Library.

Except an occassional doggie kiss of encouragement, the idea here is to keep kids reading by providing an audience that's all ears.

"Children who are reluctant to read out loud in front of adults tend to be okay with that around the dogs, and reading outloud helps children improve their reading skills," says Sheryl.

"Most parents either correct the children or be too judgemental or too critical. This is a way for the children to be able to read without being interrupted and just have a dog listen to them," says Sonia.

Dogs with the "Paws for Reading" program are at Groves Library every Thursday from now until May. If you would like to sign up your child to get them to read more, you can call the Groves Branch Library on 19th St. at (806) 767-3733. The program is free to all elementary-aged children.

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