Draper Library goes to the dogs to encourage reading
You can learn about dogs in the library but probably wouldn’t expect to see one there.
However, on March 23, one of Intermountain Therapy Animals’ dogs joined kids at the Reading Education Assistance Dogs event. This monthly program is designed to help children practice reading to the dogs.
Intermountain volunteer Karen Burns and her daughter Jessie were on hand to help children read to the dog, a 5-year-old Miniature Dachshund named Chloe, or to read a favorite book to the children. Karen Burns said this program is a popular way for children to interact with an animal and develop a love of reading.
“The mission of Intermountain Therapy Animals is to enhance the quality of life through the human/animal bond,” she said. “In 1999, we discovered that bond transfers into the literacy environment. We come into the library as a way to get children here. They get to practice reading out loud to a dog. It builds their confidence. It’s a non-threatening, non-judgmental environment. It hopefully will get them interested in books, libraries and reading in a comfortable, calm setting.”
The R.E.A.D. program has been at the Draper Library for many years. The dogs make a stop at the library on the third Saturday in the morning, but Draper Librarian Danette Hantla said the schedule does change and to check the library’s online calendar for upcoming dates and times.
The animals that participate in the R.E.A.D. program are therapy dogs that also help with speech, physical, occupational, psychotherapies and special education. These dogs are registered therapy animals and have been trained to assist humans.
Hantla said this has always been a very popular event for library patrons. It gives children the opportunity to practice reading in a way that can be more comfortable for them.
“The main reason is to encourage kids to read,” Hantla said. “If they don’t feel comfortable reading to a person, sometimes they feel comfortable reading to a dog.”
Draper resident Brita Peavey brought her four children to the event. As a regular library patron, she sees the importance of exposing her children to a wide variety of books. It’s also the chance for the children to interact with a dog, something they love to do.
“My oldest daughter loves dogs, but we don’t have one, and this was an easy alternative,” Peavey said. “I’m a big book person, and reading is important. I try to promote anything that will make them interested in reading. Sometimes reading with a dog is more fun than reading with mom.”