For readers in grades K – 6


Read to a Dog at Thomas Memorial LibfaryAbout The Program

Children in grades K – 6, especially struggling or less-than-confident readers, are invited to sign up for 15-minute time slots. If your child would benefit from a weekly appointment outside of regular sessions, contact Megan Smith for possible accommodation depending on availability.

Benefits of Reading to a Dog

Some of the documented benefits of therapy with animals include lowering of blood pressure and heart rate, increased relaxation, and a tendency to forget about pain and limitations.

A research study almost 30 years ago found that when children get nervous, especially when talking to others, their blood pressure can rise very high, but that if a dog joins the scene, blood pressure will go down very low, whether the child and dog are sitting quietly together or whether the child is reading to the dog. We suspect part of that is because dogs are so trustworthy–people just know they don’t have to be self-conscious or worried or embarrassed when they’re with a dog!

Remember that even most adults are terrified of public speaking, and most of us have forgotten how daunting it is to have to expound in front of our peers. Often, kids who are learning to read get stressed, not because they aren’t capable of reading but because they get nervous and self-conscious, they worry about making mistakes, they worry about looking dumb-and all those worries make it hard to focus. They dread reading in front of their friends, so they often “freeze up” and things just get worse. When they read with a dog, right away they start to relax, and then they forget about feeling self-conscious or nervous, and pretty soon things start to flow a little better. Before they know it, they are enjoying the experience of reading instead of dreading it, they’re even looking forward to the next time. It is simple, and it works beautifully! It also extends beyond the immediate reading experience-many teachers have noted that children who participate in the R.E.A.D. program start to raise their hands and speak out in class when they never could before.

(Adapted from R.E.A.D., Reading Education Assistance Dogs)

A note to parents: This program currently takes place either outside in the children’s garden or in the conference room of the library. The program works best if your child is in the area alone with the dog and his handler–otherwise, the experience becomes an exercise in reading to the parent, instead of reading to the dog.  If your child does not want you to leave while he or she reads, that’s okay, but it would be best to stay off to the side as much as possible. 

Meet Our Dogs

Walter the Corgi


Human: Addy 

Walter is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi who loves to be read to! He is at the library on Tuesdays from 2:00 – 3:00 pm. Children can sign up to read to Walter for fifteen minute time slots. Please register for a session by signing up at the children’s room circulation desk, or call the library at 799-1720.

Fun factoids:

  • Walter sleeps on his back (does not snore)
  • Walter can give a might roar while holding a toy in his mouth.

Full BioWalter, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi formally known as Champion (CH) Vestavia With a Song in My Heart, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 29, 2020.  He arrived in Maine at the age of 9 weeks and immediately began puppy school, which he followed with lots of different classes.  Walter lives in Cape Elizabeth with his human dad and two other Cardigan Welsh corgis.  In addition to being highly social with other dogs, Walter demonstrated that he likes to meet new people and picks up on their moods.  This prompted us to explore certification as a therapy dog.  He loves learning new tricks, enjoys scent work, and enthusiastically participates in agility and Rally obedience classes.

Details about more reading dogs

coming soon!

Book an Appointment

By stopping by the children’s room and filling in the sign-up sheet!