Read to a Dog Program Information
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Read to a Dog Program Information

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How to start your own Read to a Therapy Dog in your library.

How to start your own Read to a Therapy Dog in your library.

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    Read to a Dog Program Information Read to a Dog Program Information Presentation Transcript

    • Carol Truett, Appalachian State University
      • The dogs, of course, do not read (grin) but they are fine listeners and like being read to.
      • The first formal reading dog program, R.E.A.D.—Reading Education Assistance Dogs—began in late 1999 when the Salt Lake City Public Library began offering the program to kids ages 4-11 with six dogs.
      • Sandi Martin, a critical care nurse and board member of Intermountain Therapy Animals, was the originator of the program which brought certified therapy dogs, who had previously worked in hospital rehab programs, through the doors of the public library.
      • The program quickly expanded to area elementary schools and can now be found in schools and libraries nationwide.
      • A study reported by Corbett-Alderman estimated that not only are 27 million US adults functionally illiterate but that 40% of 4th graders read below 4th grade level .
      • For example, Peyton Elementary school in Huntington, West Virginia.
      • They recruited a 2-year-old Rottweiler named Zoe to listen to students read.
      • This program was modeled after the Utah READ program.
      • Participants in kindergarten and 1st grade improved their reading skills by 2.1 grade levels.
      • Other benefits noted:
      • decreased absenteeism
      • higher overall grades
      • increased self-esteem
      • Carolina Canines for Therapy also reports an impressive success rate: 83% of the approximately 400 children participating in their New Hanover County School and library programs have seen their reading skills improve.
      • to a therapy dog,
      • to a peer, and
      • to an adult,
      • they determined that children were clearly the most relaxed—as indicated by their behavior as well as their blood pressure and pulse—when reading to a therapy dog.
      • Are an inexpensive way to add new programming using volunteers with their trained therapy dogs.
      • And are an excellent form of Public Relations for any public library.
    •  
      • Have developed popular reading therapy programs for young readers, not all of whom, by the way, are struggling readers, but just enjoy the companionship of the reader dog. So here are some folks from Hickory City Public to share their programs.
      • Credits: Graphics from Microsoft Clipart, Carol Truett personal photo, and Hickory Public Library.
    • Getting Started
      • Find your dog teams!
        • A team is the dog owner/volunteer and the dog.
        • Teams must be certified through one of the three therapy animal national organizations:
          • The Delta Society
          • Therapy Dogs International
          • Therapy Dogs Inc.
          • Keep records of:
          • Current veterinarian health records
          • Therapy dog membership cards
          • Owner or handler’s driver’s licenses
    • Running the Program
      • Purchase monthly calendar.
      • Decide length of reading time; 30 minutes per reader is usually enough.
      • Don’t schedule more than 2 appointments per dog, and allow time for water and walk breaks.
      • Schedule appointments according to volunteers’ schedules. Aim for a few day and evening slots each week.
      • Choose a quiet place in the library for the reading area.
      • Provide large, soft pillows and mats for the reader and the dog.
      • Designate a staff member to be in the reading area, or choose a space where you can keep constant visual contact.
      • Advertise the new program, and get ready for some reading fun!
      Ridgeview Library Reading area
    • A Few Tips…
      • Younger children or children frightened of dogs may need some time to adjust.
      • Some readers may be content to just spend time with the dog. That’s okay.
      • Be flexible with scheduling. Call the readers the day of their appointment to remind them.
      • Respect the needs of the volunteers and their dogs. We couldn’t do it without them.
      Cheyenne and a student reader
      • Avoid volunteer burnout by scheduling each team twice a month. Some may do an extra turn if needed.
      • Have a water bowl easily accessible. Listening to stories is thirsty work!
      • Don’t forget the doggie treats!
      • Dog people are the best. You might just make some good two AND four-legged friends!
      Bebe just loves to read!
    • Say, “Thank You!”
      • Throw a Volunteer Brunch, with goodies for the dogs, too.
      • Have a picnic at the end of the school year.
      • Present them with jars of homemade dog biscuit mix.
      • Nominate coworker volunteers for awards, if available.
      A Paws to Read Volunteer Brunch
    • On a sad note…
      • Unfortunately, animals die. As hard as it is for library staff and children, it is extremely hard for the owners. Be sensitive to their grief during this time.
      • Be prepared to explain the death of a beloved reading dog to the children. Suggest some library books to help them (and their parents) cope.
      • We get attached to our reading dogs. Give yourself permission to grieve.
    • In Memory… Toby Bailey & Shelby Mollie (white dog in middle)
    • Don’t forget the goodies!
      • For the readers:
        • Paw print appointment cards
        • “ Paw-some Reader” dog tag or wristbands-give to first-time readers
        • Book Marks – “Be a Paw-some Reader”
        • “ Paw-some Reader” stickers on a roll
          • From Positive Promotions, www.positivereading.com ,
            • 1-800-635-2666
            • In-House materials:
            • “ I Read to______” stickers given at each visit.
            • “ Ask Me about Paws to Read” badges for staff.
            • For the Dogs: Doggie biscuits, bandanas, go crazy!!!
    • Our Paws to Read Goodies!
    • Get the Word Out
      • Christmas Parade
      • School Visits
      • Pet Expo
      • Local Radio Stations
      • Art on the Avenue
      • Family Fair
      • International Springfest
      • Newspapers
      • Ongoing Library Programs
    • Where in the World is Lucy?
      • Lucy traveled around the world in a hot air balloon to promote the summer reading program.
      Lucy with her passport, and soaring in her balloon.
      • She shared her adventures weekly on her own Facebook page.
      • Library staff posted updates on the library’s web page, City of Hickory Facebook page, Twitter, and made a print travelogue of her adventures.
      • The Hickory Daily Record newspaper ran special articles on her journeys.
      • Children’s department staff ran a contest to promote Lucy’s travels for the summer theme, “One World, Many Stories.”
      • Each week, children could guess what country Lucy visited.
      • Correct entries were put into a random drawing for a small prize. There were an average of 70 entries each week.
      • This was a great passive program!
      • When Lucy came back to Hickory, there was much excitement!
      Lucy made it safely back to Hickory!
    • Welcome Home, Lucy!
      • Library staff threw a party for Lucy’s return. Even Mayor Rudy Wright showed up to welcome her back to Hickory!
      Lucy gets a key to the city from Mayor Rudy Wright! When is Lucy coming?
    • Lucy visited… … and many more!
    • Remember…
      • It’s a proven fact that reading to a dog helps children read better.
      • Reading dogs must be certified through a therapy animal organization.
      • Keep current records.
      • Schedule appointments according to the volunteer’s schedules, respect their needs, and show your appreciation for their work.
      • Be visible in your community.
      • Promote your program everywhere you can, and always be on the lookout for new dog volunteers!
    • Good-bye and sweet dreams from Hickory Public Library and Paws to Read!