Our four-legged friends are more than just pets — they can also be our teachers.
PAWS for reading, an early literacy program sponsored by the Jefferson County Public Libraries teamed up with Pet Partners and its therapy animal program, to help …
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PAWS for reading, an early literacy program sponsored by the Jefferson County Public Libraries teamed up with Pet Partners and its therapy animal program, to help engage youth to read in a comfortable environment while snuggled up next to a friendly canine.
Pet Partners is a leading national organization that participates in human-animal therapy for patients in recovery, assisted living facilities and students with literacy challenges.
PAWS started last year at the Golden Library, and more than 300 kids were engaged to pick up a book and read.
“We think it was very successful because in more ways than just the children, you see dogs walk through here, and you see the patrons, and the staff just kind of lifts up,” said Joyce Merrill, patron experience associate at Golden Library.
Science exploration into the effects of dogs on human health has been well documented showing human interaction with dogs causing a drop in blood pressure and improvements in physical, social and cognitive functioning.
“Research has shown that literacy programs such as PAWS helps kids improve their decoding and comprehension skills,” said Debby Ridgell, manager of the Arvada Library in an email to the Transcript. “They’re particularly helpful for reluctant readers who tend to be much more comfortable reading to dogs because there’s no stress and no judgment. That sense of “safeness” tends to boost the confidence of struggling readers.”
Animals for Therapy, a community partner group of Pet Partners, provides the dogs that sit with the children to read where children can sign up for 15 minute sessions or longer, depending on the number of participants.
“I enjoy it,” said Camdan Mead, 9. Mead has been coming to the Golden Library to take part in PAWS for the last year. On Saturday, Jan. 3, Mead picked out his favorite book, “Space Rocks,” which he read to Chester, an English Labrador.
“It’s nice reading with dogs and I’ve also like to read anyway,” Mead said.
Golden resident Laura Bergstrom dropped in at PAWS with her two children who promptly picked out a book — and a dog. Bergstrom’s daughter, Ella, isn’t an avid reader she said but Ella loves dogs.
“She was excited about reading with the dogs,” Bergstrom said. “Anything to get her to read sounds good to me.”
PAWS for reading is held at the Golden Library every first and second Saturday of the month but the program has expanded to other locations including Arvada.
“For reading, what we really like about dogs is they don’t judge,” said Kateri Nelson, executive director of Animals for Therapy. “It really helps children read but it doesn’t matter how they read — we just want them to read,” she said.
To sign up, call the Golden Library at 303-235-5275 or drop-in to register at the Children’s Information desk.
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