What is R.E.A.D.?
The Reading Education Assistance Dogs® program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog. But not just any dog. R.E.A.D. dogs are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their handler as a team, going to schools, libraries, and many other settings as reading companions for children.
Intermountain Therapy Animals, launched R.E.A.D. in 1999 as the first comprehensive literacy program built around the idea of reading to dogs, and the program has been spreading rapidly ever since!
How Does It Work?
R.E.A.D. utilizes registered therapy animals who have been trained and tested for health, safety, appropriate skills, and temperament. When these special animals come to hear children read, it’s fun! And that makes all the difference.
But Why Dogs?
Learning to read is often less about intellectual limitation than about overcoming fears. Animals are ideal reading companions because they:
When a R.E.A.D. dog is listening, the environment is transformed, a child’s dread is replaced by eager anticipation, and learning occurs. The handler is a skilled facilitator, too – shifting performance pressure off the child and providing support, while the child gets the supervised reading practice necessary to build vocabulary, increase understanding of the material, and gain fluency as a reader.
The Results Are Significant
Participating kids make enormous strides in reading communication skills while, along the way, building self-esteem, confidence, and social skills. And there are bonus benefits – performance in other subjects tends to improve, as does attendance, and even personal hygiene.
For more information about R.E.A.D. see the Frequently Asked Questions.
For information about R.E.A.D. Dogs Minnesota click here.
For additional information about therapy animals and reading, click here to read the Early Childhood Education Journal article, Canine Visitors: The Influence of Therapy Dogs on Young Children’s Learning and Well-Being in Classrooms and Hospitals