Children learning to read can now practice alongside a furry, non-judgmental friend.
The Dover Public Library recently announced a new program that allows children that may be struggling with their reading to have a chance to build their confidence by reading to Luna, the dog.
Claire Kandle, Children’s Librarian, explained the program found the Dover Public Library in a special kind of way.
Kandle said it all started about two months ago when the library added a new book to their collection called Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, by Lisa Papp.
“It looked interesting, so I took it home and read it to my little ones,” said Kandle.
The story follows a little girl who hates books, hates to read, hates to hear herself make mistakes. She then goes to her local library and sees that they have a special dog who will listen to children read.
The little girl gives it a shot and discovers the joy of reading as the dog helps her to overcome her fears and obstacles.
“Not only did she learn to become a better reader, she learned how to empower herself to defeat her struggles,” noted Kandle. “I was very inspired by the story and instantly related to it because I have a kindergartner who is learning to read and I understand the importance of non-judgment as they practice new words and sounds. I thought, how wonderful it would be if we could bring something like this to the Dover Public Library!”
The idea was set aside for consideration down the road.
But, Kandle explained it came to light again when the library met a woman named Anne Covey came to the library to meet with the Library Director, Jim Gill.
Covey had a dog she loved named Luna who was recently certified to be a therapy dog. Covey explained to the staff that she also loved books and was interested in finding a way to combine the two.
“The rest, as they say, is history,” said Kandle. “I recognized this as the opportunity I had been waiting for. I met with Anne, she brought me her paperwork and we worked out a time to have a test run.”
An informational session this month so that Luna could get acclimated to the library without being under much pressure.
The plan: Luna will come to the library once a month on a Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. She will sit in the library’s castle area where there are low bookshelves and comfy chairs and stools. Children who want to participate will take a turn sitting next to her and reading her a story of their choice.
“We don’t want the children or the dog to feel any pressure, so if there are others waiting their turn, we will ask that they find something else to do until I call them over,” noted Kandle.
She added that research has shown pets to be great stress relievers and noted for some kids, reading is stressful and uncomfortable.
“We are going to try to turn that around for them. Our hope is that after a few times they will be more relaxed readers and their enjoyment of the activity will grow,” said Kandle.
The next session with Luna is set for Saturday, December 2nd. Tentative dates are scheduled through May, with Luna returning to the library the first Saturday of each month.
Kandle noted the dates are subject to change and depending on the need and feedback, may increase in frequency.