Want to help your kid become a better reader? Have them get extra practice by reading to your dog – yes! You heard that right. A study from the University of California Davis shows that kids who read aloud to a dog improved their reading skills by 12% compared to children who only read with a grown-up.
Something about those puppy dog eyes or cuddly bodies helps children feel less anxious when reading out loud. Educational therapist Rebecca Barker Bridges explains that therapy pets let kids focus on the animal instead of their own insecurities. Dogs make a great audience because they’re never critical, they don’t correct pronunciation, and that helps kids feel at ease when reading. And if you don’t have a dog at home, Bridges says a stuffed animal makes a good fill-in.
There are several programs across the country that provide or train therapy dogs to help kids learn how to read, while lowering anxiety, including:
- Intermountain Therapy Animals’ Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ)
- Therapy Dogs International’sTail Waggin’ Tutors
- Reading With Rover
- Pet Partners’ Read With Me
- Humane Society of Missouri’s Shelter Buddies Reading Program