New library reading program features dogs

Children have the chance to practice with books by reading to dogs in a new program hosted by the Sweet Home Public Library

The program runs from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays.

“Joy (Kistner, library assistant) went to Albany to observe their dog reading program,” said Library Director Rose Peda. “The idea is to help children to resolve anxiety (about reading).”

“To be able to read without being judged or corrected because they missed a word,” Kistner said.

The two dogs that the Sweet Home Library will use are certified therapy dogs, Peda said.

They require and have a second level of certification to be reading dogs, Kistner said.

Children may sign up at the library, Kistner said. A parent permission slip is required.

“The handlers will show the child how to greet the dog,” Peda said, and then children will each get about 10 minutes to read with a dog.

Similar programs exist with cats, Peda said. She recently watched a Public Broadcasting System report on a cat reading program. During the course of the program, the children and the cats became more comfortable with each other. The cats were nervous at first, but as time went by, the cats would curl up in the children’s laps while they read.

“It’s just a comfort, especially with kids that don’t have pets,” Kistner said. Children can get adult help during the sessions. They can ask the handler for help with a word, and in cases with young children who cannot read yet, the handler will read to the child and the dog.

For more information, call the library at (541) 367-5007.