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Dog Reading Program Expands to Shirlington

by ARLnow.com August 22, 2011 at 9:00 am 3,658 24 Comments

A program that allows kids to read aloud to dogs is expanding to the Shirlington Branch Library.

The “Paws-to-Read” program, run in partnership with the animal therapy group PAL (People Animals Love), started at Central Library and expanded to the Columbia Pike Library this month. Next month, it will expand to Shirlington.

Paws-to-Read gives children a non-judgmental companion that sits around attentively as they practice their reading skills. A study has shown that the extra reading practice and boost in confidence that dog reading companions provide actually boosts kids’ reading fluency.

Starting on Wednesday, Sept. 14, Paws-to-Read will come to the Shirlington library on the second Wednesday of every month. According to the Library Blog, slots are available for 15 minute reading sessions on evenings of Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9 and Dec. 14. Interested parents should call 703-228-6545.

File photo

  • Jack

    What a unique idea! I’m intrigued.

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    I still think there are lot of elder care facilities in Arlington where the residents would get a lot from being around the kids and listening to them read. Or maybe reading with them as well.

    • Steve85

      Good idea. The excitment that the elderly would have listening to the kids read would bring joy to their day.

  • Dave

    What?? At least this is better than using the TV as a baby sitter but what kind of feedback can a dog give to the reader about such things as voice, diction, and so on? Wouldn’t it be so much better to have the child read to someone who can really listen AND provide constructive feedback?

    • Josh S

      At another website I might be 80% sure that this was a joke. Here, it’s about 50-50 that Dave is serious…..

    • C

      Kids need to practice reading WITHOUT always receiving feedback. Unfortunately, when children read to teachers, parents, and/or other children, they almost always receive feedback. This can turn them off of reading. A dog will “listen” and never criticize a child for a mistake. This kind of practice can really boost a child’s confidence.

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    Dog therapy for the elderly has been widely acclaimed, I think this approach to helping kids read is awesome and I hope it has the same sort of success.

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    Can’t wait until they breed a dog to read to kids.

  • lil bow wow


  • Tabby

    I’ve met some very critical dogs. This may backfire.

  • Flying Spaghetti Monster

    I think the whole point is that the dog WON’T give feedback. These kids are probably at the total beginner level and need to build a modicum of self-confidence first before they’re ready to start receiving constructive criticism. Hence man’s best friend sitting in for a listen.

    • Tabby

      Listening. Yeah, that’s what they’ll do. Lick lick lick.

      • Steve85

        It is nasty to let a dog lick you.

  • Dave

    I AM serious! The feedback must be at every level to avoid the child having to un-learn the things that may no be going just right. This looks like just another excuse for the parents to duck the responsibility to actually TEACH their own children.

    • Lola

      Oh please. Kids don’t need “feedback” — positive or negative — on everything they do at every stage. Sometimes they just need a little shove to get out there and do it.

      A few months of reading “wrong” is not going to set any habits in concrete.

      And sometimes shutting up is the greatest thing parents can do for their kids.

  • Nicole

    I love this. Great idea. it is all about building confidence for the kids and practice is so important for those struggling to read. This is a really cool idea. Congrats and good luck! Also, I would love to be a part of this…any volunteering opportunities?

  • Aaron

    As a result of this program, the average dog in Arlington County now reads at a higher proficiency level than a DC middle schooler.

    • Steve85

      I hope dogs think more brillant than what you think.

      • Maria

        Oh, Steve.


  • Theakston

    Very true:

  • Newtdog73

    Who knew?

    • SaveDaveMcKenna

      Is that a picture of a female dog on the kid’s shirt?

  • Soarlslacker

    What number should dogs that interested in being read to by children call? My dogs love being spoken to and sung to (even by people that do not sing well), so reading would make sense.

  • Michael H.

    I think it’s a good idea. It’s not just about developing reading skills. It’s about developing confidence in the kids. My niece used to “read” books out loud when she was 1 1/2. She couldn’t even speak and she wasn’t actually reading any of the words on the page, but she would pretend that she was reading. She would make up noises and sounds to mimic what her parents sound like when they read to her. You could tell that she enjoyed hearing words of praise after she finished “reading” each book. (She’s a bit older now so she doesn’t have to use made-up sounds any longer.)


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