best friend enjoys stories too
is going to the dogs during story time at the Osgood Public Library
and the Milan Branch Library thanks to an innovative program called
Tales to Tails.
The program encourages children who are struggling with reading
to read aloud to specially trained therapy dogs to build confidence
and improve their reading skills.
According to Jill Merida, coordinator for the Tales to Tails program,
the program was started after being approached by several parents
who wanted their disabled child to be around dogs, but did not want
to have a service dog.
Merida, who is a certified service dog trainer, and her team first
started in the North Central Library in Ohio, where the program
became a success. Through her desire to present the program locally,
Merida contacted the local libraries. I called all four, and
all four wanted us, she said.
The team is made up of the dogs, Tuck, Tally and Dakota and their
trainers Jackie Skinner, Rebecca Merida, as well as Jill. The dogs
attend the story time in costume and are ready to hear a story.
According to Merida, each child who reads to the dogs is eligible
for a drawing to win a special prize.
The dogs are non-judgmental and therefore increase a childs
confidence when reading aloud. According to Merida, children who
start the program reading in a whisper will be reading more loudly
and with expression in a short time.
According to Rosie Pelligrini, children services director at the
Osgood and Milan libraries, attendance to story time has increased
since the program began in March. I was thrilled with the
program, she said. A lot of kids dont warm up
to adults, but really connect with a dog.
Between March and May attendance to the reading program saw an increase
of 23 children, according to Pelligrini. Often a day care class
will attend when the dogs are visiting. The dogs help to bring
them in the first time, she said.
The most rewarding part of the program is when the parents see the
progress their child is making in just a short time, according to
Merida. At the end, we feel like we have made a difference
to the kids, she told The Versailles Republican.
Its rewarding to us all the way around, she continued.
Sometimes the smallest things that you think wont make
a difference really do.
Story times are held twice a month at Osgood and Milan libraries.
For more information contact Osgood Public Library at 812-689-4011
or the Milan branch at 812-654-1963.
Pictured in front is Willow Blunt who is reading to Tally.
Behind her other children are reading to Tuck. The children's
reading skills are given a boost and the service dogs enjoy
the company. The Tales to Tails program is making a difference.