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Kids read aloud to dogs to help overcome fear

Posted: February 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Jayden Correa, 6, reads aloud from his third-grade-level book, "Little Lucy" to Sofie, a 7-year old cocker spaniel at the read to dogs event held at the Newhall Library on Saturday. (Dan Watson/The Signal)

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Reading aloud went to the dogs Saturday at the Newhall Library.

A group of canine ambassadors took over one of the rooms at the library for an hour-long reading session geared toward helping children move past the fear of reading out loud, said Chris Baker, the head of youth services at the library.

“A lot of times when kids are struggling with reading, they don’t want to read in front of their peers,’ Baker said. “They might feel intimidated or judged if they get something wrong.”

“A dog doesn’t correct you if you make a mistake.”

Baker said, on a typical day, anywhere from 20 to 30 kids will show up to read to a group of specially trained therapy dogs.

Saturday’s event was one in a series of such events called the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program.

The program uses registered therapy dogs, accompanied by their handlers, to create a relaxed and comfortable environment where children can read.

One such handler is Canyon Country resident Sharon Rendall.

Rendall is an evaluator with Pet Partners, a group that trains companion and therapy animals. She attended Saturday’s event along with her dog, Sparky.

Sparky, an 8-year old Great Dane, is a regular fixture at such events, Rendall said.

All of the dogs in events like Saturday’s undergo special aptitude training to ensure they have the proper temperament to be a good fit for the program, Rendall said.

And though she acknowledged the goal of Saturday’s event was to help children get more comfortable with their reading, Rendall said she has simpler motives for participating.

“When you get a kid that smiles at you, it just makes your day,” Rendall said.


On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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