[kids-lib] Program with Reading Assistance Dogs

Holly Campbell-Polivka Hollyc at tigard-or.gov
Fri Apr 4 14:33:09 PDT 2014

Hi Karl,

The Tigard Library has a thriving "Dogs and Tales" program. We have partnered mostly with Pet Partners, formerly Delta Society, but also with two other organizations (can't think of the names off the top of my head) and have a total of 6 dog teams who alternate and come once a week for an hour and a half. There are actually 3 dogs in the room at a time with 3 different kids reading at a time. Surprisingly, it works very well and is not too busy even with that many kids and dogs in the same room at the same time. We probably have about 60 semi-regular readers and 20 very regular readers, anywhere from very beginning readers who have not yet begun kindergarten up through 5th grade.

I have lots of anecdotes about why this program is so great for kids as I'm sure you have heard, but a few surprised me. One mom told me that after her son started in the program, she suddenly made the connection that she should set aside specific times to read at home; after a month of reading more regularly together at home and reading to the dogs, he was put into a higher reading group at school! Some families use the program because their children are comfortable with dogs and not so comfortable with reading. I have also heard the reverse: they use the program because their children are comfortable with reading, but not so comfortable with dogs. What a great place for a kid who is afraid of dogs to actually spend time with a nice, gentle dog.

We pre-register the kids for 20 minute reading sessions. We call the day of the appointment to remind them and also provide frequent reader cards (after 5 stamps, kids get to pick a free book) to prevent no-shows. Overall we have a pretty good attendance rate. It does wax and wane a bit (there will be times when we have 10 kids on the waiting list, other times when we don't even quite fill up the 12 slots) but overall the program is very successful.

Holly Polivka
Youth Services Librarian
Tigard Public Library
Main line: 503.684.6537
Direct line: 503.718.2811
hollyc at tigard-or.gov
Regular hours: Sun 12-5, Wed 2-9:30, Fri 9:30-6

From: Kids-lib [mailto:kids-lib-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Karl Thang
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 4:00 PM
To: kids-lib at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [kids-lib] Program with Reading Assistance Dogs

Hi, everyone!

I'm Karl, the new Youth Librarian in Creswell. I'm looking into bringing a Reading Assistance Dog (preferably from the READ program) for an event this year; has anyone implemented an event that connects the dots between service dogs + kids + reading? I'd love to hear from you! Did you connect with the READ program or did you have better luck reaching out to local veterinary organizations? What activities did you do -- was it a 'storytime with a dog' or something more involved, like letting kids read to the dog?

Any info would be appreciated. Thank you in advance!

Karl Thang | Youth & Community Services Librarian, Creswell Library


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