Kids and dogs are a natural fit. Add reading to a trained therapy dog and you have the recipe for a warm and inviting exchange. Dogs are non-judgmental and offer emerging readers a chance to try out their skills as they become more comfortable sounding out words and syllables. Strong readers simply love to read out loud and pet the docile animals as they listen contentedly.
We have had read to the dogs programs in our York County libraries for many years. At Red Land, we initiated the Sit. Stay. Read. Program as part of Summer Reading Program. Children may sign-up for a 15-minute slot to read to one of our gentle Golden Retrievers on Fridays. This past summer, we had teen video production campers shoot, edit, and produce a short informational video on the program. When the library reopens on Saturdays in the fall, the program will move to the second Saturday of each month. Children sign-in at the desk, choose a book, and peruse it a few minutes until they are called to read. It is truly heartwarming to see.
Now, let me introduce Ella. Ella, the eight-year-old retired service dog has another job at the library. Along with her owner, Bonnie Hamilton, Ella comes to work her volunteer shift each Friday from 12pm-2pm. Ella has free run of the library, greeting people and sometimes getting her ball off the shelf to play with a library visitor. She reminds us to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.
We do love when our library is full of children attending story time or building a STEM project, but it is also nice to watch a child read uninterrupted to a patient, loving animal.
Red Land Community Library