Reading with Rover

What do you get when you bring children, dogs and books together? You get happy, confident children who love to read.

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The West Bend Library partnered with the Washington County Humane Society to create a program that provides a weekly opportunity for kids to read aloud to trained dogs who listen patiently and without judgment for 15 minutes.

For more information check out the West Bend Library Community Memorial website.


In a more recent study published by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, second graders maintained their reading skills over the summer if they read aloud to dogs. The study, published August 10, 2011 goes on to say, “Another surprising result was the high rate of attrition among students in the control group. Of the original cohort of nine, a third failed to complete the program. No students left the dog-reading group.” This part is, of course, what we have experienced as well. Kids LOVE reading to the dogs! The study reports, “In the Dog Group, 0 of 9 children dropped out, while 3 of 9 dropped out of the Control group.” Although these numbers are small, they indicate exactly what we have observed at our “reads” for years.

The whitepaper that discusses this Tufts University study is available here: Benefits of Reading Assistance Dogs.
Many other beneficial aspects of children reading to dogs which were noted in the study included:

  • Increased motivation to read independently
  • Increased self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Increased sense of support
  • Reduction of stress/anxiety

This study suggests if having a child read aloud to a dog for 30 minutes a week could maintain that child’s reading ability over the summer vacation until he returned to school, we believe it such a minor investment in that child’s literacy — to make it any easier would be difficult!