All Ears: Library Program Uses Man's Best Friend to Boost Reading Confidence

- CHERRY VALLEY -- Reading isn't always the most fun for kids, especially when their struggling to sound out the words. Now, a local library is bringing in some very special listeners who won't judge based on ability.

Thousands of books line the shelves at the Cherry Valley Public Library, but it's what lurks behind them that's grabbing the attention of young readers.

5-year-old Mary Grace Hohf comes to "Books and Barks" week after week, telling tales to one that wags his.

"Now why would you read to a dog instead of to your parent or a teacher? Well sometimes adults, don't mean to be, but they can be critical of reading deficiencies or mistakes in reading," said Eve Kirk, Director of the Cherry Valley Public Library.

But the dogs don't bark back, giving kids like Mary Grace the confidence they need to get better.

"She is an emerging reader, and she tends to be very timid with reading," said Kim Hohf, Mary Grace's mom. "Coming to the library with the dogs it removes all of her timidity."

And her little brother Eli doesn't shy away either. The program has become the highlight of the week for both kids.

"When we're not here they talk about it all week," said Hohf. "We'll read a book and they'll say 'Oh, I could bring that to read to the dog'."

All that reading pays off with a shiny medal at the end of the four week session, but the dogs also have a victory to relish.

"There aren't reading therapy cats," exclaimed Kirk.

All the dogs that participate are trained therapy dogs. If you want to help out the Cherry Valley Public Library, they are having a book sale going on through Sunday. Money raised will go to expand their parking lot so they can accomodate more eager readers.

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