Editorial: Reading Buddy program a fine way for kids to improve skills | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Reading Buddy program a fine way for kids to improve skills

Goldie, a floppy-eared Saint Bernard mix, may not have learned much from the story read to her Thursday, but she sure made it easier for the storyteller.

Eight-year-old Mary Shumaker participates in an inventive, fun Lake Tahoe Humane Society program called Reading Buddy. The society established the program to help children improve their reading skills.

On Thursday, Shumaker read while Goldie listened (at least most of the time).

According to Liz Maul, Humane Society outreach and education manager, most children who read at a lower level are intimidated by their peers. But children aren’t as nervous reading to dogs, because the pooches don’t criticize.

Four children participate in the program at the Boys and Girls Club, which began Jan. 17. Each child reads to the dog for 15 minutes once every Thursday.

So far, Goldie has been the sole listener, but three more dogs will join the club this week, Maul said.

The program not only helps children strengthen reading abilities, but it also teaches them to be kind to animals. The program’s books all emphasize that animals should be treated humanely, but stories with unrealistic representations aren’t included. Maul wants the kids to learn facts about animals, so stories in which animals converse with each other, for instance, are not used.

Maul added that the program will encourage teachers to rely on Reading Buddy to help students overcome specific reading challenges, such as comprehension or vocabulary.

Bravo to the Humane Society and the Boys and Girls Club.

The Reading Buddy program is a marvelous way to get kids to read, overcome shyness and peer pressure, and learn about the ethical treatment of animals to boot. It also has the potential to help teachers, who will benefit from their students’ improved skills.

And now, with additional dogs on the listening roster, the Humane Society can ramp up the program and get the kids reading more often. Fifteen minutes per week is too little.

And besides, Goldie and friends probably could use the entertainment.

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