The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog. But not just any dog. R.E.A.D. dogs are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.
Today, hundreds of registered R.E.A.D. teams work throughout the United States and Canada. R.E.A.D. is one of those ideas that, in the words of Bill Moyers, “pierces the mundane to arrive at the marvelous.”
Intermountain Therapy Animals, a nonprofit organization, launched R.E.A.D. in 1999 as the first comprehensive literacy program built around the appealing idea of reading to dogs, and the program has been spreading rapidly and happily ever since! (READ Program)
Ms. Mary and Sassy
For many students reading out loud in class to their peers can be an overwhelming, embarrassing experience, where students dread making a mistake in front of their classmates. Reading to dogs allows students to practice their oral reading skills without the pressure of impressing their peers or teacher. Dogs don't laugh at or correct children and create a safe, non-threatening environment for reading. As a result, children gain confidence in their reading ability and improve their skills.Before they know it, they are enjoying the experience of reading instead of dreading it, they’re even looking forward to the next time. It is simple, and it works beautifully. Along with helping the students improve their reading skills, the experience helps enhance the human/dog bond, which was very important to me as a dog-loving teacher.
To see more dogs doing great things in the classroom, visit Nanook and Pooka.