Canines for literacy help kids improve reading skills

Young boy reading to a golden retriever at Myrtle Grove Library. (Source: Max Nunez)
Young boy reading to a golden retriever at Myrtle Grove Library. (Source: Max Nunez)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Having children read out loud is a common practice schools do to help prepare their students for public speaking. But reading doesn't always come easy to everyone, and some children can be intimidated by reading out loud in front of their peers.

The local Canines for Literacy program has teamed up with New Hanover County Public Libraries to help kids overcome the stress of reading. Parents register their child for a 15-minute reading session with a trained therapy team dog and their handler.

"The dog will sit there and the child can pet the dog as they are reading," explained Max Nunez, Myrtle Grove Children's Library Associate. "If you stumble or mispronounce a word the dog isn't judging you, and the handler is there to help you as well with the reading."

This program started in 2002 and since has helped almost 1,000 children in New Hanover, Brunswick and Duplin counties. About 92 percent of those children have said the program improved their reading skills.

The dogs go through a special comprehensive training to be a part of the Canines for Service Literacy program before your child can read with them.

Nunez said this program not only helps children improve their reading skills, but is a good gateway program to introduce kids to the ways of the library.

"Children who come in and do this know how to do self checkouts, use their library cards, wait for the receipt, and where to find books in the library," he listed. "It's really a great program because it's more than reading to the dog it's about becoming a part of the library."

Canines for Literacy is offered at four New Hanover County Public Library's. Click here if you want to register your child for a reading session.

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