Children going into second grade and older are sharing their favorite stories with an unusual audience at the Park Ridge Public Library this summer. Read to the Dogs is a program through which volunteers from Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy bring trained service dogs to the Library’s First Floor Meeting Room. Each dog and its handler are paired up with a child who reads aloud to the dog for 15 minutes. The program is sponsored by Marion’s Mark, a local family fund established in memory Marion Sitkiewicz, a supporter of the Park Ridge Library.
“This is one of our most popular programs,” said Children’s Services Manager Parry Rigney. “The children who participate really enjoy spending time with the dogs, but they also gain confidence in their own reading abilities through this experience.”
In 2010, the University of California-Davis completed a study on reading to dogs programs, which suggested that children who read to dogs improved their own reading skills in comparison to children who did not read to dogs, based on the results of the Oral Text Reading for Comprehension Test. The program involved reading to dogs once a week for ten weeks. Children who read to dogs also reported a greater enjoyment of reading than children who did not read to dogs.
Read to the Dogs takes place four times this summer at the Park Ridge Library, and signup occurs one week prior to the event. For dates and times of upcoming Read to the Dogs events, visit www.parkridgelibrary.org/kids.
For more information about Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, visit www.rainbowaat.org or call 773-283-1129.