20 Sep 2016

Reading to dogs in libraries

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 2:24 pm on 20 September 2016
Dogs in libraries

Dogs in libraries Photo: Waikato District Council

Waikato Libraries have launched a unique new programme to encourage kids to practice their reading skills - by reading out loud to dogs in the library.

It’s called Dogs in Libraries, where people can practise their reading skills by reading aloud to a dog and the council says it will help with people’s reading ability and self-confidence.

Megan May is the Waikato District Council animal control team leader and has developed the programme.

Reading to dogs helps people – young children especially – to build their self-confidence, she says.

“The benefits to them is building their confidence with their reading, building their confidence around dogs, and encouraging the kids to come into the library interacting with the staff.”

The programme has launched in Ngaruawahia with three rescue dogs that have been temperament tested by an animal behaviourist.

It is targeted at children and new immigrants who want to develop their reading skills. Students at lower decile schools are a particular focus for the team.

“Some of the issues that stop them from advancing is they are fearful of other kids laughing at them, or people correcting them because they’re not reading the words well. The pressures can be quite high on them. The fear of being judged or being told that they’re wrong can be enough to stop them from trying to advance.

“So by reading to a dog… the dog is never going to correct them, the dog is never going to laugh at them, so hopefully they can progress further faster.”

Each child who reads to a dog is given a personalised bookmark with a photo of the dog they read to.