2017-07-14 / Schools

Dogs in the library bring happy tales to young readers

Kids enjoy PAWs program
By Jessica Waite


CUDDLE UP—Zoey Friedman, 5, of Camarillo gives Tobee, a 7-year-old white Swiss shepherd, a big hug after reading to him during the PAWS for Reading program on July 10 at the Camarillo Library. The program is held at 2 p.m. Mondays and lasts for an hour. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers CUDDLE UP—Zoey Friedman, 5, of Camarillo gives Tobee, a 7-year-old white Swiss shepherd, a big hug after reading to him during the PAWS for Reading program on July 10 at the Camarillo Library. The program is held at 2 p.m. Mondays and lasts for an hour. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers One by one, dogs, volunteers and kids alike piled into the story corner at the Camarillo Library.

It was a Monday, and Monday means dogs at the library.

Once a week, volunteers bring certified therapy dogs to the children’s section of the library to listen to kids read. The program, called PAWs for Reading, encourages children to practice reading out loud to an audience that can’t talk back.

Kids stood impatiently in line, bouncing up and down as they waited for their turn to read to a therapy dog.

After reading a book or telling a story to a dog, children receive that dog’s trading card. There’s a rotating cast of roughly 45 dogs who come to the library, meaning the kids have the chance to earn quite the collection.

“Just look at these kids,” said Jill Bernick, handler of therapy dog Angel, a golden retriever. Children who were too shy to introduce themselves to Bernick quickly sat down to read storybooks to Angel.

“It’s really neat to see the kids so excited,” Bernick said.

Jessica Dickran of Camarillo watched as her children—Micah, 9, Makenna, 6, and Caleb, 3—eagerly ran over to the story corner to read to the dogs.

“They love that the dogs don’t care how much or how fast they read,” Dickran said. “They just get a positive reading experience.”

Dickran said she also loves how children who are too young to read can still learn to love reading by sitting with the dogs as their parents read to them, or by telling the dogs a story using the pictures from a book.

Susan Gardner, a library assistant, supervises the program each week.

“The benefits are the kids learning how to read, getting more comfortable with reading, even just storytelling with the pictures if they don’t know how to read that well,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of kids grow from not being able to read at all to actually reading chapter books. The literacy is awesome with this program.”

Denise Riley, who comes to the library with her dog Tobee, loves the program, too. She said the program has helped some kids lose their fear of dogs.

“The dogs get to see each other and the kids learn pet manners,” she said.

The therapy dogs, who come in all shapes and sizes, are certified through Love on a Leash. Many of the dogs double as therapy dogs in hospitals.

PAWs takes place on Mondays at 2 p.m and lasts for an hour. Children sign up on a list and pick out a book to read. The last ten minutes of the hour is petting time and children are free to walk around and pet any dog without having to read.

“The kids always come loving to read to the dogs. It’s a super awesome program,” Gardner said.

For more information, call the Camarillo Library at (805) 388-5222.

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