Children are being invited to read to a lovable Labrador at Malton library with the aim of building confidence and improving literacy skills.
Last month, Read2Dogs was launched at Selby library with two rescue dogs from Serbia, who act as therapy dogs with their owners.
Malton library has decided to follow suit with Rosie the black Labrador, who is meeting budding readers at a taster session at 10.30am on Wednesday 19 February.
The Read2Dogs scheme originated in the United States. It helps children develop literacy skills and confidence through the calming effect of the dog’s presence on children and because the dog will listen to the children read without being judgemental. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence needed to read aloud.
One mother brings her daughter to the sessions at Selby because she has selective autism and a possible social communication disorder. She had never read aloud to anyone other than close family members at home.
“At first she settled down next to one of the dogs on the floor and started off whispering to him as she read,” said her mother. “The longer she stroked him she relaxed and grew in confidence and by the end of the book she was reading aloud.
“I feel this service is so important for anyone who struggles to read aloud, especially for those with special educational needs and disabilities as they face challenges which can be hard to overcome.
“I feel really confident that my daughter will make great progress reading regularly to the dogs. Thank you very much for providing this essential service.”
County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, added: “Read2Dogs is another example of how libraries across North Yorkshire are leading the way with finding inclusive and innovative activities to boost a child’s confidence.
“We’ve had children of all abilities come along and improve their skills by reading to such friendly dogs. I would urge parents to bring their children to a session and see what Rosie can do for them. It’s amazing to think that something so simple can make such a huge difference.”
After the taster session at Malton library, sessions will be held each Tuesday for six weeks starting on 25 February. They will run from 5pm to 6pm and customers can book a ten-minute slot with Rosie. If they prove popular, the library hopes to make them a regular feature.
To book your place, contact Malton library.