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Summer activities for kids today include many that can improve self esteem and boost confidence. When I was young summer meant sun burns and staying out of the house and out of trouble, until mom called. Our best days included made up games based on popular TV shows, imaginary treks across the Himalayas and reading tons of books. Today the focus is on not just passing empty summer days, but on taking advantage of the free time to build a child's confidence. 

Peininsula-Humane-Dog Tales Wet Nose Tutors. Remembering my own shyness as a child, it makes me really happy to see cities and counties across the country offering reading programs that encourage children to read aloud to dogs.

San Francisco SPCA began its Puppy Dog Tales Reading Program in June 2007 at the Chinatown Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. As you see often on the Grouchy Puppy Facebook wall, we post links to programs that encourage the use of therapy dogs for reading, and companionship to seniors, vets and those in need of a little quiet love to help heal.

Structure for Dogs and Students. The summer reading program Dog Tales, in Virginia, allows a child to sit quietly for 15 minutes at a time reading aloud to a dog thereby encouraging confidence. They have a silent audience to read to, but this proximity to a trained dog also teaches a child about proper behavior around animals. This exposure sends a positive message to children.

In the San Francisco Chronicle,"Dogs unleash elementary school students' reading skills" story, I found this wonderful anecdote:

Since 2007, the San Francisco SPCA has been sending therapy dogs and their owners to public and private schools, libraries, and pediatric hospital units to encourage "struggling readers" to open books and give it a try. Six students have been reading to Dusty and Sophie since the start of the school year, as one of the many ways educational resource specialist Wendy Fergus is trying to lift their reading levels up one or two grades.

"The animals seem to take some of their nervous energy away," Fergus said. "If kids are reading to a dog, the dog's not going to say, 'You're wrong,' they're just going to listen."

Consider supporting the reading programs in your local area. Hundreds of Dog Tales programs are out there, many are waiting for volunteers and for certified dogs. Reading education assistance can make a difference in the lives of children, and what child wouldn't want a wet nose tutor who thrives on pets and affection?


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