PAWS to Read: Helping children gain confidence

Hailie Tagner
Staff Writer

For children, learning to read is the biggest lesson that they can learn in elementary school. Reading is the building blocks for the rest of their school career. Often, failing to learn a new word can leave the child feeling hopeless and their confidence in shreds.

Many children begin to detest reading and try to avoid it at all costs, harming them in the long run. That’s where Catawba County Library comes in with their PAWS to Read program. Laura Driver and a previous supervisor first introduced the PAWS to Read program to help children get excited about reading. Volunteers with certified therapy dogs bring their furry friends to the library, where children can read to the dogs from some of their favorite books.

When the children leave, it’s eminent how much their confidence in reading has grown. In comparison to reading in front of humans, the certified therapy dogs give the children a sense of calm that they don’t usually find with their teachers or parents. The handlers remain with the child and dog throughout the reading, offering gentle assistance to help the child learn while they read.

According to past supervisor of the program April Green, children were often reluctant to sign-up until they heard about their new reading buddy. The exciting idea to read to a dog made them willing to crack open a book and parents could watch as their child’s confidence soared. It seems the saying “Dogs are a man’s best friend” is truer than it would seem. With a dog by their side, it seems there is nothing a child can’t do.