After seeing the success of their Paws to Read program – where area children read to trained therapy dogs – the Matthews Library will make the monthly event a weekly occurrence in the new year.
Library staff hope adding more sessions helps them reach more children who are struggling to read or lacking confidence in their reading skills. The program is available for children who are learning to read or are having difficulties advancing their reading skills.
Paws to Read allows elementary students to read to therapy dogs for 15-minute sessions. In 2013, reading sessions will be held every Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the library, 230 Matthews Station St. Registration isn’t required.
“As you know, the library is all about literacy and educational success and we know that for children who struggle to read or aren’t enthusiastic to read it’s important that they have nonjudgmental listeners,” Matthews Children’s Librarian Amanda Goldson said. “Those dogs are the non judgmental listeners.”
Until now, Paws to Read was a monthly program where advanced registration was required. By moving the program to every weekend and making it a drop-in event, Goldson says staff hope to see the program become even more successful.
“We are structuring this a little bit differently,” she said.
Goldson’s confidence in the Paws to Read program comes from past experience and seeing the same children continue to come back after participating in the program. She hopes to see the program help even more children in the future.
“Everyone is really excited about it. When it was a sign-up program the same kids would sign up every time because they were so excited about it,” she said. “It really boosts their confidence and their reading skills.”
At least two dogs will be available for each session. Goldson contacted organizations like Therapy Dogs International to find dogs to participate in the program, but she has also heard from people in the community who have therapy dogs and want to have volunteer for the program.
The library is still looking for dog volunteers and their human companions to help with the program.
The Mint Hill Library also holds a Paws to Read program on the second and fourth Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m. Appointments are requested and can be made by calling 704-416-5200, but walk-ins are accepted.
Have a therapy dog?
If you have a certified therapy dog and want to volunteer to help with the Matthews Library’s Paws to Read program, call 704-416-5000.
To help with the Mint Hill Library’s Paws to Read program, call 704-416-5200.