I love this new initiative from the National Literacy Trust (one of my firm’s main partner charities, staffed by some of the coolest people you could ever hope to meet):
Thousands of highly trained dogs are being primed for calls from schools looking for a sympathetic, and furry, ear for children with reading difficulties. The Pets as Therapy charity has 4,500 dogs throughout the UK trained to go into residential homes, hospitals and hospices to provide comfort, companionship and therapy.
Now the organisation is preparing to launch Read2Dogs to schools nationwide, following the success of a year-long pilot scheme at Westfields Junior School in Yateley, Hampshire. Polly the greyhound visited the junior school with her owner once a week last year to listen to children reading. The school found all 20 pupils who took part in the scheme felt more confident about reading afterwards and while three children had read aloud to their parents four times a week before the trial, all of them did afterwards. They also found that 60 per cent of pupils made three months’ progress in reading ability in just six weeks.
That’s a pretty impressive improvement in children’s reading ability! My only complaint is the use of ‘2’ in the name. I really hate anything that promotes less-than-perfect literacy (particularly when it’s part of a literacy scheme…!)