The popular Read to a Dog program is back at the Turlock Library following a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, which takes place every first Saturday of the month from noon to 1 p.m., invites independent readers up to the age of 12 to read to a certified therapy dog inside the library.
The Turlock Library first began hosting the Read to a Dog program in 2011. After a nearly three-year pause, they brought it back in October. Their two events since returning have received rave reviews.
“The parents have been sharing that they love watching their kids excited to read,” said Turlock Library branch manager Karina Mendoza. “Even the people who aren’t there for it, just walking by, it’s a sight to see the dogs in the library. People love seeing the dogs and the children reading to them.”
The dogs are brought over from the Paws 4 Friends club based in Manteca that works alongside the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a national non-profit.
The main goal of the Read to a Dog program is to help children gain confidence in their reading skills by reading aloud to the therapy dogs in a relaxed atmosphere, explained Mendoza. The dogs offer unconditional acceptance and support to creating a pressure-free environment for young readers.
“It’s a really good way for the kids to gain confidence in reading out loud to the dogs, who are very friendly and welcoming,” she said.
And with confidence comes the enhancement of reading skills.
In a 2010 study conducted by the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension in a collaborative effort with the Tony LaRussa Animal Rescue Foundation, Dixon Unified School District third-grade students who read to dogs once a week for 10 weeks in the classroom improved their reading fluency by 12 percent. Meanwhile, home-schooled students who read to dogs once a week during the same span improved their fluency by 30 percent.
The return of the Read to a Dog program in Turlock comes at a time where reading fluency amongst children across the nation struggles to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. In the State of California Smarter Balanced test results for 2023, 46.66% of students met or exceeded the state standard in English, a change of -0.4% from 2022.
Those wanting to attend Read to a Dog in Turlock can register online at www.StanislausLibrary.org under the ‘Events and Classes’ tab.