Twice a week at a library in southern Mecklenburg County, some unusual reading partners get together, open up their favorite book and read. Sometimes, at the end of the book, someone gets a lick on the face or a furry handshake.
“Paws to Read started at South County Regional Library about two years ago,” Sandra Nicholls, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library senior library assistant, said. “Kids read aloud with a dog to boost their confidence in their reading level.”
Twelve licensed therapy dogs participate in Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Paws to Read, a program designed to provide pre-school and elementary school-aged children with a friendly and non-judgmental listener while they enhance their reading skills.
The program allows children who might be uncomfortable reading in class an outlet to read in their comfort zone. “We’ve seen several (kids) that sign-up for Paws to Read on a regular basis, and there are several that their attention span has increased, the reading levels increased, confidence is increased,” Nicholls said. “It’s a great program.”
The Saturday morning we visited, Chloe was the pooch on duty. Chloe’s handler, Ellen Vick said, “We've been involved with it (Paws to Read) for three years. Being a retired teacher, I can see different points in the kids learning and what they picked up.” The children agree. “I like reading with Chloe. We have the same birthday, and she always listens,” 5-year-old Cameron Warfield said.
Vick said she has seen the children feel better about themselves as they grow into a better readers. “They get a smile on their face and they show it to Chloe,” Vick said. “They’ll come back month after month. I've seen confidence in the children as they read out loud.”
WAXN-TV in partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library will collect new and gently used children and teen books until April 22. All donated books will be distributed by the library to area children and teens through Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Outreach Services without the need to check out and return the book. You can find out more information by clicking this link and visiting www.64UBooksForKids.com.
If your organization or business would like to get involved or help with any WAXN-TV/WSOC-TV community campaign, please email your inquiry to Kevin Campbell, Community Affairs Manager at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.
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