Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Dec. 10, 2019

Linkedin Pinterest

Read to the Dogs helps build reading skills, confidence in kids

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published: July 21, 2016, 6:05am
5 Photos
Limon snuggles up as Cora McGill, 9, reads "The Time of the Fireflies" to her as part of the Ridgefield Community Library's Read to the Dogs program through the Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams program.
Limon snuggles up as Cora McGill, 9, reads "The Time of the Fireflies" to her as part of the Ridgefield Community Library's Read to the Dogs program through the Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams program. Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — Sophia Goodwin was absolutely giddy Tuesday as her mother drove her to the Ridgefield Community Library.

“My wish has come true,” Goodwin, 4, told her mom while sitting in a car seat. “I wanted to do this since I was a baby.”

What Sophia wanted to do so badly was participate in the library’s Read to the Dogs program, in which kids take turns reading out loud to a patient canine. Any child can participate.

Read to the Dogs is part of the Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams Program and is run by DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind. It sends trained dogs to three libraries in Clark County: Ridgefield, Vancouver Community Library and Three Creeks Community Library.

Ridgefield’s program started in December after Cindy Bean reached out to Ridgefield librarian Sean McGill. Bean and Limon, her 4-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, have been part of the therapy teams program for more than two years. Bean, a Ridgefield resident, heard about the Read to the Dogs program and thought it would be fun for her local library.

McGill said she was familiar with the program and happy to bring it to Ridgefield. It’s held 6 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month for kids ages 5 to 9.

“It gives kids such confidence because they get to read out loud,” McGill said.

It also gives kids a chance to practice distracted reading. McGill’s daughter, Cora McGill, 9, participated in the program for the first time Tuesday. She read “The Time of the Fireflies” by Kimberley Griffiths Little aloud to Limon, who showed her appreciation for the story by continually licking Cora’s face.

It was to be expected, though. On Limon’s business card — yes, business card — it says that she loves ice cubes and giving kisses.

Sophia didn’t read to Limon. Instead, she flipped through “Harry and the Lady Next Door” by Gene Zion and described the pictures, holding the book up so close to Limon that her wet nose was practically touching the pages. Plenty of times during her 15-minute session with Limon, Sophia put down the book, closed her eyes and stuck out her face so Limon could lick every inch of it. The kisses were her favorite part, Sophia said.

Bean said she and Limon try to go out once a week, usually to visit children in hospitals in Portland. She has enjoyed the reading program, Bean said, as she gets to watch shy kids come out of their shell. At a recent event, a quiet boy read a “Star Wars” book to Limon and asked the dog if she knew what a Wookie was, she said, then stopped reading to explain them.

“A dog is not going to judge you,” Bean said. “The kids are free to do what they want. A parent might stop a kid and correct them on something. A dog will listen. It helps kids open up more.”

Loading...