Library’s “Puppy Tales” offers remedy for shy readers

If you’ve got a young reader who has difficulty reading to parents or teachers, the Haywood County Public Library may have a new approach to consider — reading to a friendly, non-judgmental canine.

Puppy Tales, a program designed to encourage children to read by providing a certified therapy dog who will lie next to them and listen while they read, is now available by appointment on Tuesday afternoons and on Saturday mornings at the Waynesville library branch.

Assistant Library Director Sharon Woodrow said she is excited to be offering the program to Haywood County children. Puppy Tales currently has three certified therapy dogs — Myles, an Australian shepherd trained by Kristen Walker; Bodie, a Shelty trained by Joy Newton; and Lily, a Shih Tzu trained by Susan Hale.

“Around the country, programs similar to this one have been very successful in helping children improve their reading skills, sometimes by as much as 16 percent,” Woodrow said. “The children like being with the dog, so they begin to view reading in a more positive way. Over time, their confidence improves because they are practicing their skills.”

The program is aimed at children in grades 1-5. Appointments are available by contacting Donna Surles at 828.356.2519. Each session is for 20 to 30 minutes per person.

All dogs that participate in the program are certified.

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