Most people agree that for children to become proficient readers, they need to read more. For many children, though, reading can be a struggle. Reading aloud can be stressful for children who feel others are judging them whenever they make a mistake. That’s where Hope comes in.
Hope is a certified therapy dog who visits Selover Library in Chesterville every other Saturday for their new “Reading with Hope” program. Children sign up for 20-minute appointments in advance and select their own books to read to the golden retriever. The children can pet and cuddle the gentle dog while they read, giving them a relaxing, judgment-free reading experience. The program is open to all children who want to read to a dog, not just struggling readers.
The goal is that children who read to Hope will look forward to their reading time and develop more positive feelings about reading. If children already enjoy reading, they get the extra joy of doing what they love while petting a soft, friendly dog. The children who have already read to Hope certainly left their sessions with big smiles on their faces. “She was a good dog,” said Cody Kipp, age 6. “She listened well….It was like she was saying ‘Pet me. Pet me some more.’”
Hope’s owner Lyndsey Wilcox learned about the comfort dogs provide when she was hospitalized as a twelve-year-old. Prior to a scheduled back surgery, she gave her own blood to use for post-operative transfusion. Little did she know that it was tainted by a rare bacteria, likely from spider bites. She suffered an infection that led to seven strokes, organ failure, and the double amputation of her lower legs. Lyndsey’s parents snuck her dog Daisy, later to become Hope’s mother, into the ICU to soothe their daughter during her 87-day hospital stay. This experience stuck with Lyndsey and inspired her to complete therapy dog training with Hope.
To sign your child up for a Reading with Hope session or for more information, call Selover Library at 419-768-3431.
Tristen Sifers, age 8, reads aloud during Selover Library’s Reading with Hope program.
Cody Kipp, age 6, reads to Hope at Selover Library.
James Stevens, age 8, pets Hope during a recent appointment at Selover Library.