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Reading is Going to the Dogs!

Kathleen Green
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Reading with dogs

Volunteer Elizabeth Emery with her dog Baby, listening to Sarai San Lucas (on left), age 9. Volunteer teams are from Tender Loving K9s.

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

Two of my all-time favorite things are reading and spending time with my dogs. So I’m really excited that the two have been put together to help children build their own reading skills.

I’ve always loved reading and I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read but I do remember the anxiety I felt in first grade when I had to read aloud in class. I spent hours at home reading books to my dolls and I was happy and carefree but when called on in class I stumbled over words and was always told I needed to speak louder. I still remember how hot my face felt from blushing with embarrassment. 

Now there are certified therapy dogs that visit schools and public libraries and listen to children read aloud. Six-year-old me would have loved this! Dogs are nonjudgmental and don’t mind if you mispronounce a word or if you read slower than the last reader. Petting a dog has a calming effect and reduces anxiety. Children are often more confident when reading to a dog and are so focused on sharing the story with their furry friend that they don’t even notice the handler sitting nearby.

The dogs and handlers that visit the public library are fully trained and certified for this program. Children will get 10-15 minutes of time to read aloud to a dog who sits or lays quietly and patiently next to them. Some libraries register in advance for the program and others will let children in on a first-come-first-serve basis. Check out the events calendar for your public library to find out if they offer this program and call to find out if you need to sign up in advance. 

Children can also read to their pets at home . . . even goldfish like looking at the pictures. If you don’t have a dog or other pet available, reading to a favorite stuffed animal or doll will work too!

Here are some fun picture books about dogs and other pets:

  • The Best Days are Dog Days by Aaron Meshon
  • Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby by Maureen Fergus
  • The Lending Zoo by Frank Asch
  • The Grumpy Pets by Kristine Lombardi
  • This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne
  • Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet by Nick Bruel
  • Puppy! by Keith Graves
  • Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion
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