Dogs Help Children Learn to Read

Dogs make great listeners for children learning to read.

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: August 19, 2014, 2 p.m. PST

Dogs make great companions. They’re loyal and never judge, which is why they’re perfect for kids who are learning to read.

Standing in front of the classroom, or even at their desk, and reading out loud, with all the attention on them can be nerve-wracking for a child, especially if it’s a skill they haven’t mastered. Their eyes scan the words on the page, their little fingers follow, their voice shakily sounds out the words. Panic often overcomes them. What if I don’t say it right? What if they laugh at me?

Sometimes they rush themselves, thinking the class, and possibly the teacher, are growing impatient. They may even feel that way reading in front of family. A dog, however, sits with the child patiently and listens. He doesn’t laugh. He allows the stumbles and mispronounced words.



Grosse Pointe Public Libraries recognized this and started the Reader Dog Program. Utilizing special therapy dogs, the program was designed to lessen the embarrassment of reading aloud for kindergarteners through fifth graders.

Practicing to read with dogs in a library provides a new approach and a new environment for students learning to read.

Each therapy dog is calm, quiet and tame, yet also excited and happy to be there. The dogs sit with each child reader for 30 minutes, listening to the child read from a story he brought from home or chose at the library.

Eleven years running, the Reader Dog program leaves children with increased confidence in their reading skills and makes them more likely to participate in class.

Sometimes all you need is a great dog.

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Cathy   Greendale, Wisconsin

8/26/2014 11:25:07 AM

I cannot agree more with this article about Dogs helping children to read. I myself have a certified therapy dog who assists children to read at 2 of our local libraries and parents have sung his praises at the job. It's been especially helpful for those children having difficulties reading, children with disabilities such as autism, attention deficit disorder, etc... Everyone reading this who is interested and has a calm attentive pet should contact their local library and school to set up this program and watch what changes occur in all the children who attend.

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