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Kids and dogs become friends in PAWS program

Dmitri Bordea reads a book to Murphy, a Golden Retriever during the PAWS reading program at the Price City Library.

Sun Advocate publisher

It's easy to drift off when reading something silently and be thinking other thoughts. Sometimes everyone does that and suddenly they find themselves back tracking to see what they have missed.

For kids with low reading levels or reading comprehension problems this tendency can be very problematic. But the local PAWS program and the Price City Library have teamed up to help kids to read and comprehend in a very unusual way. They improve comprehension and reading skills by having sessions where kids read to PAWS dogs.

"When you read out loud you are active and you comprehend what you are reading," said Nancy Bentley, the director of Active Re-Entry and the PAWS program in the area. "These dogs are trained to listen intently to the kids as they read."

Reading to a dog has been going on for nine years, and there are a lot of success stories that have come our about kids improving their reading skills from it in that time.

"It's pretty much proven that reading 20 minutes a week to a dog, helps the reader gain confidence, and can help students to grow over one year in reading level in a short period of time."

Norma Procarione, the director of the Price City Library has watched the program grow and work over the years.

"Kids with zero reading skills love the library because of this program," she said. "We hold it during the summer on each Wednesday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Those who come and participate get a reading journal and a free T-shirt."

Bentley says that the reading to dogs trained to listen has some very good side benefits. First it is calming, because the dogs sit quietly and pay attention. Secondly many kids have come to love the animals, along with developing better reading habits.

"The dogs are well trained and behave," she says. "They know they have a job to do and they love to be with kids too."

She said that dogs are great listeners and that they are non-judgemental, unlike humans who may always try to correct a childs reading.

"They just aren't correcting the kids all the time," she stated. "It's good for everyones blood pressure."

For more information on the program parents can call 435 636-3188. They can also just stop by the library and ask about the summer reading program.

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