You may already know that the presence of animals (dogs in particular) has been proven to provide health benefits for humans. Pets can both lower blood pressure and reduce stress. However, one benefit you may not have heard of, is that pets may also help struggling readers improve their reading ability.

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program, a pet therapy program, claims to improve children's reading and communication skills by employing this method: reading to a dog. The program recommends R.E.A.D. dogs, which are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children. Today, thousands of registered R.E.A.D. teams work throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and beyond.

Some adult literacy centers are employing this technique as well. Adult learners appreciate the calming and non-threatening disposition of their furry reading partners. Participants found that they focus less on how they sound when they read which reduces much of the anxiety associated with illiteracy.

Some results of this technique may be improved fluency, skill, confidence and joy when reading.

If your child's reading problems extend beyond a lack of confidence and is need of effective reading strategies for decoding difficult words, Reading Horizons provides a multi-sensory and sequential approach to learning effective reading strategies.

Click here to learn a few of Reading Horizons decoding strategies! ›