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Paws For Reading

In addition to providing therapy teams to health care settings, Paws for Healing also provides a Paws For Reading literacy program for Solano, Napa, and Sonoma that we call Paws for Reading. Reading teams go to libraries, school classrooms and after-school programs where children read to a canine "Reading Buddy." The goal is to provide a non-judgmental atmosphere in which kids can read without correction or interruption and learn not just to read, but to love reading as well. Additionally, the Read program creates a supportive environment for children so that they may read without correction or interruption.

The purpose of Paws for Reading is to make reading an enjoyable experience and to enhance children's literacy skills through reading buddies, one-on-one attention, opportunity and bonus programs.

The Paws for Reading program embraces children with a canine spirit: kids will do better with a little extra love, patience and some quality time with an adult.

Reading Buddies are calm, patient, attentive dogs that provide focused time
with a child, even when another may be present at the session.

Reading to their buddy makes kids feel special and helps them build
confidence and self esteem.

Repeat visits build trust so that children can "try out" new words
with their reading buddy.

Non-English speaking or bi-lingual children have a Reading Buddy
that understands books in all languages.

How do you become a Reading Team?
All dogs are first evaluated for temperament and obedience. Handlers then attend a two-day Paws for Healing seminar that includes an introduction to the reading program. Those who pass the evaluation and Paws for Healing seminar may attend the Paws for Reading class and then demonstrate how to apply what they have learned in a library or school setting. Applicants also show an 80% proficiency on survey questions before being mentored in an educational setting.

The literacy program provides support materials, such as flyers, staff orientation and organizational tools, as well as incentives and bonus programs for the children. Each Reading Buddy has its own personalized bookmarks to give children in all settings.

Why the Program Works
Our Reading Buddies act as reading coaches for children. The goal is to provide individualized help to children but do it in a way that lessens their fear of reading aloud and making mistakes. That is where the canine comes in. Reading Buddies become supportive partners for the children and will nurture every child's self-esteem and confidence. Teams also know how to engage pre-readers (toddlers) with picture books so that they will associate libraries, books and learning as something positive and fun.

Other Benefits
  • UC Davis researchers studied the reading abilities of children who read to dogs and the findings were astounding. "After reading to a dog once a week for ten weeks, standardized tests showed reading fluency increased on average thirty percent. Below grade readers improved a startling forty-six percent."

  • The Paws for Reading program have increased library patronage. Here are results and feedback about the Paws for Reading program from teams, teachers, parents, and librarians:

  • Testimonials

    A completely positive reading experience from beginning to end: Carol, and her dog Honey, make this wonderful for all concerned.The child is able to practice reading in a 100% stress-free environment. Honey is noticeably excited to be read to; she pulls at the leash to greet the child and is attentive for the duration of the book. There is no judgment given by the dog. The dog is an excellent listener. Honey enjoys every book, every reading level, and every (sometimes mispronounced) word. Allison Angell, Head of Youth Services Benicia (Calif.) Public Library

    "The success I've witnessed has been incredible. Throughout the week children constantly ask which canines will be visiting us Thursday. The children look forward to the time they spend with their furry friend. I've seen children develop a sense of confidence in their reading ability because they know that their canine friend won't judge or correct their reading. I've also seen children excited to tell their parent, who's serving overseas, how they were able to read to a dog who "really" listened." Delilah Wilson, Senior Technician, Mitchell Library, Travis Air Base, Fairfield

    PAWS is a very successful program here at the Vacaville Library – Cultural Center. We currently have five dogs that love to listen to children read. The dogs are here Monday through Thursday afternoons, one dog per day, and they stay for an hour.

    We have been providing this program at our library for almost four years. It started out slowly, but has become popular over time. We are grateful to the Paws for Healing organization, its volunteer dog owners, and, of course, the dogs for this service to the children of Vacaville and to our library. Thank you, Dan Rhoads, Library Associate, Children’s Department ,Vacaville Library – Cultural Center

    “My two daughters have been reading to a dog almost weekly at the Napa Library for two years now and their confidence in reading and the improvement in their ability to read is amazing. Their classroom teachers agree! “ C. Jamieson, parent, Napa

    Paws for Reading Buddies are listening to children read weekly in elementary schools, and libraries, in Sonoma, Napa, and Solano counties. Please refer to your library's website for dates and times. You can also write to the email address below to find the nearest Reading Buddy to you.

    To request a Paws for Reading team for your facility, please contact Paws for Healing at:

                    Telephone: 707-258-3486

    To become a Paws for Reading team member, please download the Paws for Healing application at:

    Paws for Healing, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation