Can Dogs Teach Kids To Read?

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Know a child who needs a little help with learning how to read? CNN reports that man's best friend could be a great teacher for kids too.

It sounds implausible. After all, dogs can't read. How could they possibly help someone learn a skill that they themselves can't grasp? But it's a growing trend, and it seems to be working... The philosophy is simple. Children who are just learning to read often feel judged or intimidated by classmates and adults. But reading to a dog isn't so scary. It won't judge, it won't get impatient, it won't laugh or correct if the child makes a mistake. In a nutshell, dogs are simply excellent listeners. And for shy kids or slow readers, that can make all the difference.

CNN iReport caught up with a book-loving pup and owner at the West Virginia Book Festival.


Okay, so the dogs aren't actually teaching kids. In fact, the program works because the child feels like he or she is teaching their furry friend something new, which makes them more assertive and confident as they sound out their way to literacy.

Kathy Klotz is executive director of Intermountain Therapy Animals, which runs a nationwide program called R.E.A.D.--Reading Education Assistance Dogs. Klotz says a lot of people are skeptical of the program when they first hear about it, but anyone who's spent time with a dog will understand.

"It sounds a little kooky when people first hear the idea," she admits. "But if they know dogs at all, and the way people relate to dogs, it quickly starts to make sense. But you don't quite ever grasp how really lovely it is until you see it happen and you see the kids light up and you see how excited they are. You see all these changes in them that they just weren't able to make."

You can learn more about promoting literacy with pooches at R.E.A.D. or, for $25 dollars, you can pay for one student's materials for a whole semester at Sit. Stay. Read.

Impact wonders what else dogs can inspire us to do. Do you have a story about a pet that's helped you learn something new?