Do not underestimate the power of man’s best friend! The winner of the first Readers’ Choice Literacy Grant is an innovative program that uses therapy dogs to help improve kids reading, the Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) R.E.A.D. program.
The reading-challenged kids in the program often suffer from low self-esteem and view reading as a chore. But dogs don’t judge, so reading to them removes inhibitions and helps a child focus. It makes reading fun and creates a positive, memorable experience that stays with kids for a long time.
In the R.E.A.D. program, each child reads aloud to a therapy dog in either their local library or school. The books are age and level appropriate, and often animal related in topic. After a child accomplishes the reading of ten books (which may take weeks, depending on skill level), they receive a brand new book of their choice that can be “pawtographed” by their canine reading companion. Thus, books are sent into the homes of the children. You can read all the details about the program here.
I had the pleasure of calling Kathy Klotz, Executive Directory of ITA, to deliver the news. (That was fun – it’s not every day I get to give away $20,000!). After she caught her breath, Kathy was good enough to compose a statement for our press release:
We are simply overjoyed to be chosen as recipients of the Readers’ Choice Literacy Grant, and so grateful to Better World Books and every single person who voted for R.E.A.D. We know the competition was tight and every finalist had great merit. Our goal is for every child to grow up loving books and reading, as the foundation for a lifetime of learning. Because of the great power of the human-animal bond, reading to a dog is an ideal way to build skills, confidence and, not least, great enthusiasm.
Well said, Kathy! Especially when referring to the competition participants – we received a host of proposals from so many organizations that are passionate about literacy – it was wonderful. You can read all the finalists’ proposals here. I’d like to thank everyone who participated, it is inspiring to see so many people out to improve our world through literacy!