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Therapy Dogs Help Young Readers at Memphis Public Libraries

By: Marcey Wright

Kids love reading to READ therapy dogs at the Library!The days of struggling to read aloud are over for kids at Memphis Public Libraries! Young readers are becoming more confident by spending time with trained read therapy dogs.

“There’s no judgment involved when children read to a dog. There’s no parental pressure, and kids aren’t being graded,” explained children’s librarian Susan Penn. “It’s just a fun, no-pressure way to practice reading with man’s best friend!”

Parents and kids can take advantage of two free programs at Memphis Public Libraries – PAWS for Reading at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue), and READ to Tootsie at Bartlett Branch Library (5884 Stage Road).

With each new word, kids are encouraged by their four-legged cheerleader and a human companion. “Children respond so well to this interaction because kids feel that they are seen truly for themselves and not what they’re supposed to be,” Penn said.

For children who aren’t natural animal lovers, they too can be worry-free. “Some kids, because of how they’ve seen others react, are inherently afraid of dogs. We show them that they are right to be cautious, but we show them how to approach the dogs too,” commented Penn.

For specific program dates and times, parents can call Central Library (901-415-2700) or Bartlett Library (901-386-8968) Mondays through Thursdays, 10 am to 8 pm; Fridays and Saturdays, 10 am to 5 pm; and Sundays, 1 pm to 5 pm.

“It’s a fun opportunity to read aloud!” Penn concluded.