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Attentive therapy dogs help kids in Marin County build confidence reading aloud

Therapy dogs help kids in Marin County build reading confidence
Therapy dogs help kids in Marin County build reading confidence 03:01

MILL VALLEY -- A library is traditionally a quiet space so bringing a dog inside could easily be barking up the wrong tree. 

However at the Mill Valley branch, seeing two-year-old Golden Retrievers Kona and Sophie doesn't give anyone paws.

Two veteran therapy dogs, Kona and Sophie are here to lend an ear as part of a program called Share a Book, where fur meets fiction and kids can follow the scent of adventure by reading to pooches. 

Eleven-year-old Sunny Chambliss said she's a diehard reader but sometimes she can get a little shy. 

"I feel way more confident reading out loud when I'm near a dog. It's really comforting," she said. 

Lisa Bloch of Marin Humane says the idea is to provide a non-judgment zone to help kids ease some of those reading jitters. 

"Dogs really relax us. They allow us to have fun. They even lower our blood pressure for anybody, really, but especially for kids who are maybe struggling with reading. Doing it to a dog, it just feels good," she said. 

Researchers at UC Davis found that kids who read to therapy dogs for 15 to 20  minutes a week over a 10-week period saw a 30 percent improvement in reading fluency. 

Toni Sousa, an educator and the library assistant at Mill Valley Public Library, said not only does reading to dogs improve skills, it creates a positive association with libraries in general. 

"Most children, once they've read to a dog once, they want to come back again and again and again," she said. 

For Chambliss, reading to Kona helped unleash her confidence.

"It's like you can read without a care in your mind. You don't get judged at all."

If you have a dog that you think is good with kids and you'd like to volunteer, you can reach out to Marin Humane on their website 

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