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Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

Dogs open doors to reading

Participants of the Paws 'n'Tales program at Bowral Library, photo courtesy of Wingecarribee Shire Council. 17 February 2020

Bega Valley Shire Library is introducing an innovative literacy program matching up registered pet therapy dogs with children who may be experiencing reading difficulties.

The Paws ‘n’ Tales program benefits children by boosting their reading confidence and fluency, building vocabulary and giving children real motivation to practise their reading in a comfy environment in the company of a friendly dog.

The program is aimed at children, aged 5 to 8 years of age, who may be experiencing reading difficulties, low motivation to read, low self-esteem or health issues impeding their learning.

Library Coordinator, Megan Jordan-Jones says dogs have proven to be excellent reading mentors.

“The big plus is that dogs don’t judge, they’re patient, and give children their undivided attention.

“We hope that soon, it will be a common sight in our libraries to see children reading aloud, confidently, to a reading buddy in the form of an amiable dog,” says Ms Jordan-Jones.

Council’s libraries play a vital role in encouraging everyone to improve their literacy skills and Paws ‘n’ Tales offers practical support to local children and their families in overcoming barriers to reading.

The library is calling for volunteer/dog teams. If selected, there will be training in Ulladulla on Saturday 28 March and volunteers will require Police and Working With Children checks.

Dogs are vet-checked and stay on a leash for the entire reading session.

Weekly sessions last for 15-20 minutes with the same volunteer/dog team to allow the volunteer, their dog and the child to develop a rapport. Sessions are one-on-one and individualised to the reading needs of each child.

There is no reading testing carried out - the focus is on developing the child’s reading confidence and on encouraging reading for enjoyment.

If you and your dog would like to volunteer for Paws ‘n’ Tales, please contact Megan Jordan-Jones at Bega Library on 6499 2321 or email mjordan-jones@begavalley.nsw.gov.au.

If you would like your child to take part from term two, complete a Paws ‘n’ Tales expression of interest form available from any of the Shire libraries.

Paws ‘n’ Tales is provided in partnership with Paws Pet Therapy which is a registered charity located in Thirlmere NSW.

Find out more about Paws ‘n’ Tales on the library website at www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/library

Photo: Participants of the Paws ‘n’Tales program at Bowral Library, photo courtesy of Wingecarribee Shire Council.

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