This is such a great idea to help get kids to read. It's called Ruff Readers. The program pairs children age 5-10 years old with a trained therapy dog and their handler, giving the child a chance to read to a canine companion.

Your kids don't even have to leave the house to participate in this program! It is all done virtually through Zoom meetings. Studies have found children reading to a dog is almost as good as reading to a person. The dogs don't care if a child flubs a word or sentence. This program is great for kids that love books, love dogs, or maybe just need to build some confidence with their reading skills. Students who read aloud to dogs often have improved attitudes about reading. You can sign up your children for Virtual Ruff Readers being offered through the Kent District Library.

On Mondays (from 6:30 pm-7:30 pm) and Wednesday (from 3:00 pm-4:00 pm), Ruff Readers happens online via Zoom. During this time, kids get a chance to read their favorite book to a canine companion while the dog curls up, listens, and enjoys the story. Participants should plan on having enough reading material for 20-25 minutes of reading time.

Parents who have had children participate in the program have commented on Ruff Readers on the KDL website. One mother said: "One of my girls struggles with reading, mainly confidence. I watched her struggles melt away as she read to the pups. I could she her confidence growing in a way I never have."

Another parent commented: "My son, now a college Junior, read to his Ruff Reader dogs beginning at age 5. This particular activity sparked his love of reading!!! He has very fond memories of all of the dogs and 'Dog Books' from that time in his life. Every child who can participate should schedule Ruff Reader time!"

West Michigan Therapy Dogs launched the Ruff Readers program at the Grandville branch of the Kent District Library in the summer of 2002. Some 200 dogs have been trained in WMTD’s pet therapy course specifically for the Ruff Readers program. These dogs have learned a set of commands so that kids can focus on reading aloud.

For additional information, and to register for the Zoom meeting, visit the Kent District Library website.

Here is a video of a similar program...

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