Dogs are now being used in many school and library settings to help motivate youngsters to read. The use of trained therapy dogs in reading programs can result in children who feel comfortable reading out loud, read more often, attempt more difficult books, and actually look forward to reading. As they improve their literacy skills, they’re not just learning how to read, they’re learning to love to read!
In 2006 several dogs and their handlers in a suburban Minnesota town participated in a pilot project called PAWSitive Readers. After reading to the dogs just once a week for seven weeks, 10 of the 14 children improved their reading scores at least one grade level. Three of the others were learning English, while another was already reading at grade level. This is just one of many examples of the benefits of programs encouraging children to read aloud to therapy animals.
It's not just the youngest readers who benefit from a gentle therapy dog. Many college campuses welcome therapy dogs to help students "shed the stress" of final exams. Indiana University students can book time in "Rent-a-Puppy" day with puppies from a local animal shelter. Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School both have resident therapy dogs in their libraries.