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Kids reading and dogs go together

2:20 pm January 4th, 2013

Four-legged friends might be just what a child needs to be a good reader.
Children can build their reading fundamentals with the help of a dog during free events that are being planned by Pierce County Library System for several of its branch libraries, including the one in Graham.
According to library officials, “Read to a Dog” events at the libraries help improve children’s literacy skills through the assistance of registered therapy dogs. Children feel comfortable reading out loud, read more often, attempt more difficult books, and look forward to reading.
“Reading aloud helps children gain confidence and enhances learning,” said Neel Parikh, executive director of the Library System. “Sharing with a dog provides a new dimension that encourages children to read with enthusiasm.”
The first of two events at the Graham library is scheduled for Jan. 8 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The second one is set for the same time on Feb. 19.
The library is located at 9202 224th St. E.
Similar events are also scheduled for the Summit and Sumner library branches. More information is available at www.piercecountylibrary.org.
No registration to participate in the events, which are sponsored by Friends of the Librarie.
Officials said the libraries will use only dogs that have passed the required obedience and temperament testing and are registered by an accredited therapy-dog organization.
Research on animal-assisted therapy and activities shows that the presence of an animal encourages relaxation, lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Children who formerly did not enjoy reading often begin to look forward to sessions with a furry friend, according to officials.
As children start making positive associations between time spent with a dog and reading, they begin to view reading in a positive light. In time, children’s reading ability and confidence can improve because they are practicing their skills in a comfortable environment, which will make them enjoy reading even more, officials said.

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