by Joan Moore
I recently perused the National Book Festival in D. C. to find a good book, but it was a dog in a book that was my find for the day. Jane Paley and her dog Hooper were on stage entertaining parents and children, chronicling Hooper’s journey as a dog displaced by Hurricane Katrina to the lead character in his own book, Hooper Finds a Family. Hooper also found a new role as a reading therapy dog.
Sometimes people get lucky too. My sons had a tutor who made them readers before their self-esteem plummeted. She was our rescue. She tutored in her home and was accompanied by two black labs, Abbey and Katy; and yes, they were rescue dogs. My sons are teenagers now, but they still visit their tutor and her new black lab, Cindy. Although not a registered therapy dog, Cindy often escorts reluctant children from their cars into her home where they embark on an effective reading program for dyslexics. Cindy is the reason we chose to get our own rescue lab.
We hope to create an atmosphere where our dyslexic children want to access a book. My son reminded me that I read to them each night for at least thirty minutes. It was our own book club; it was a time for discussion. Tutoring is crucial, but parents also try to find the right book, the right author, an audiobook, or any hook that makes accessing a book worth the trouble. There must be a lure into reading when it’s difficult, and sometimes it’s sharing a good book with a parent or with a four legged friend like Hooper.
Try checking your local library to learn more about programs offered, we found Read to the Dog offered through the Fairfax County Library.