Buller District Council

Media Release- Reading to dogs at the Sue Thomson-Casey Memorial Library

23rd November, 2017

A Reading to Dogs service has begun at the Sue Thomson-Casey Memorial Library in Westport as a part of the library’s support of the development of literacy in children in our community.

Several libraries in New Zealand – and internationally –run a reading to dogs programme as a service. The rationale behind this is that a child who is having difficulty mastering reading is likely to see an increase in confidence when able to practice reading aloud. A dog is a non-judgmental audience and removes pressure from the reader. It is an opportunity to associate reading with something which is a pleasure rather than a feared task.

Dogs do not judge, criticise or laugh at mistakes.

Dogs do listen carefully; let children go at their own pace, increasing relaxation of the reader.

Children who have difficulty with reading become very self-conscious when reading aloud but reading aloud is very important in developing readers. Reading to a dog gives the child a different audience and a positive experience of reading aloud.

A study conducted by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis reports that children who read to a dog once a week for 10 weeks, showed an increase of 12% in reading fluency over that time. One child commented, “The dogs don’t care if you read really, really bad so you just keep going.”

Westport’s reading dog is Quaker, owned by Greg Quinn. Quaker and Greg come into the library on a Wednesday afternoon from 3pm and children are able to book a session with her. She has her own dog themed rug which she stays on and the child reads to Quaker from a bean bag.  A consent form and more information are available from the library.


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