Paws to Read

July  21, 2014

       Children read longer and better in the company of a furry friend. That's why the Rock Island Library has opened its doors to dogs this summer. The program is called Paws to Read and it's part of the library's summer reading program. Linda Taylor oversees therapy dogs and handlers for the Quad City Canine Assistance Network. In the past three years, she and her 4-year-old golden retriever, Honey, have made over 1,000 visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. 

      "You can watch a child with a behavior issue that's about to go up in a puff of smoke completely be diffused. When we go to school, struggling readers have a little bit more reward an incentive to be able to read because now they're reading to a dog instead of somebody who's going to critique what they're reading."

      Taylor says the personality of the dog is more important than its breed. Bassett hounds, French bull dogs, and poodles all participate in the program. Library spokeswoman, Lisa Lockheart, says about 75 children have participated in Paws to Read, just one of many programs for children this summer. 

       "What we know is the more kids read, the more they succeed. Just that practice over the summer keeps them up to date with their skills so that when they go back to school, they're more able to start right back up."

      Three to five dogs attend each session. The next Paws to Read is set for next Wednesday, July 30th. The program ends for this year on August 2nd.