Readers of the Pack™
Children are invited to read to 4Paws dogs and become part of our pack of readers. At Healdsburg, Windsor, Rincon Valley, and Rohnert Park Public libraries, students can earn free books by reading to our “listening” canines.
In schools, teams work individually with students, some of whom may be struggling with literacy for a variety of reasons. They may be learning English or have unstable home lives, and some have learning challenges that make it difficult to concentrate. Our 4Paws dogs offer a calm, safe environment in which children may practice, make mistakes, and try out different strategies that help them become more confident readers.
Teachers and administrators are more supportive than ever in welcoming therapy dogs in the classroom. From mediating stress to helping students do better on tests, 4Paws canines soothe nerves, make children smile, and give teachers a new option for reaching their students.
For additional perspectives on canines in the classroom, please see the link at the right "Classroom Canines”.
Please see our YouTube video from Impact100 Sonoma who awarded 4Paws a community grant to increase the number of canine social therapy teams.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does reading to dogs really work?
Yes. When children begin reading aloud, they are more worried about pronouncing every word properly than understanding the story. 4Paws dogs give children a chance to enjoy reading by not correcting or interrupting them. When a child sits next to a dog, you will see the child relax, pet the dog and all of a sudden become engaged in the story, regardless of ability. That's reading for the pleasure of it.
2. What students can participate?
Everyone! Even advanced readers enjoy becoming a reader of the pack because reading becomes an enjoyable, engaging experience, not just a chore or assignment. Many children now come to the library who are very good readers because they want to read. One grateful librarian remarked, "Thank you for bringing books back into the lives of our youngest patrons."
3. What if children speak another language instead of English?
A recent study by UC Davis professor Cheryl Meehan, PhD showed that reading for 10 minutes once a week for 10 weeks improved children's reading fluency between 12 and 30%. When children read more easily, they enjoy reading, can focus on the story, and more easily understand content. It's a happy cycle of enjoyment, confidence and learning.