Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Libraries host canine friends to promote reading

Madison Lupo
Delaware Public Media

Delaware Public Media works with aspiring high school journalists across the state through our youth media program Generation Voice.

Over the coming months, we are featuring work produced by Polytech High School students Sarah Cook and Madison Lupo, including this story on therapy dogs helping to encourage reading.


Kent County Public Library hosts regular sessions for people to read to therapy dogs, using dogs to create a judgement free area for people to practice reading skills.

The non-profit PAWS for People partners with the library to make therapy dogs available for reading sessions.

“This event takes place consistently on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 6:30 at the Library. It’s open to everyone. No age limit and no pre-registration, just drop in,” said Librarian Hilary Welliver.

Handler Chrystal Walsh has been with Paws for Literacy for just under 10 years and says it’s easy to see the impact the sessions have.

“Within the first visit, they become better confident readers. The dogs are listening but they’re not judging them at all, and if the kids want to talk about the pictures in the book, that fine too. We just want them to be comfortable with the book,” said Walsh.

Parent Carly Lasher believes it would be a great opportunity for her children.

“My oldest I think would love it because he’s obsessed with dogs, but even then I think he’d think it was cool he’d be reading to a dog,” said Lasher.

And while children often benefit, Welliver says others do too.

“It’s for people that are practicing a second language, ESL or for people who would really like to have time with a dog but don’t have one of their own,” said Welliver.

And Welliver thinks the dogs benefit too.

“I think the dogs enjoy in just as much as the kids, I think it’s a win, win situation.”

The library uses a variety of special promotions to encourage participants to stay with the program.

“One of the best things about this is that if you read to a dog 5 times you get to have a free T-shirt,” said Welliver. “I’ve done that and this is a T-shirt that I earned along with a certificate that I could show to prove that I read to the dog at least 5 times.”

Kent County Library is just one library offering these tail wagging events. For others, check with your local library or with PAWS for People and other dog therapy organizations.