Studies have shown that dogs can help children improve their reading skills. This summer, Long Beach, Calif., plans to expand its canine reading pilot program, Beach Animals Reading with Kids (B.A.R.K.), to all of its 12 public libraries.
A study done by Tufts University found that second grade students who read to dogs improved their reading skills 12 to 20 percent, while those students that read to people showed no improvement at all.
According to Long Beach Public Library Director Glenda Williams, children don’t feel pressure or judgement when reading to a dog. On the other hand, when they read to adults, children might experience performance anxiety.
In an interview with Press-Telegram, Williams said that it is important for children to acquire reading skills at an early age because in school the basics of reading are only taught until the third grade.
“If you don’t have the fundamentals of reading, it’s going to be very hard for a child to be successful in school and as an adult,” Williams said.
B.A.R.K. has 170 teams with certified therapy dogs. They work with the city of Long Beach to place the dogs and their handlers in different public libraries throughout the city.
Starting this June, B.A.R.K. plans to integrate reading teams to a new participating library each month.
For more information on the schedule for this summer’s literacy program visit B.A.R.K.’s web page.