Can dogs help children learn to read?
The answer is 'yes', according to participants at the Dakota County Library system's "Waggin' Tales" program.
A national initiative designed to help children improve their reading skills, Waggin' Tales convened on Saturday at in Eagan. As part of the program, children can read to a tail-wagging audience for as long as 20 minutes. The sessions help ease any problems the child might have in reading aloud, according to those involved with the program. It also offers kids an opportunity to learn how to be safe around animals.
Six of the Dakota County libraries sponsor Waggin' Tales sessions. The event held Saturday at Wescott was the first of three this summer. Other area Waggin Tales sessions are set for the county libraries in Apple Valley, Inver Grove Heights, West St. Paul, Rosemount and Lakeville.
There were be additional Waggin' Tales sessions at the Wescott library July 14 an Aug. 11.
The program is a good way for beginning out-loud readers to get their feet wet, said Wescott librarian Mary Wussow.
"It's designed so kids can practice reading out loud without anyone judging them if they makes any mistakes," Wussow said.
"It was our first time here and we'll definitely do this again," said Nicole Kunza of Eagan, who brought her kindergarten-age son Macswel in Saturday to read with the dogs.
The animals participating in the program are all certified therapy animals.
"As a puppy he was very calm and collected, so we sought out ways to utilize that," said Annette Scanlan of Apple Valley, who brought her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Madigan in for the reading program. "All of these dogs have had several levels of obedience training. They're well behaved animals."
"I like petting the dogs and reading to them," said program participant Alex Jensen.