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New animal-friendly reading program
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What do you get when you bring together a book and a bark?

A new reading program at the Richmond Hill Library, called the Reading to Dogs program. The pilot event will be Saturday, Jan. 26, from 10 a.m.-noon.

"We’re very excited. Our regional library in Statesboro has done this before but we haven’t. We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to do this," Library Manager Kate Barker said. "The program is for children who are beginning to read, or who are perhaps reluctant readers, or who have special needs."

The idea behind the program is that, while reading to a therapy dog, children are less self-conscious and therefore become more confident when reading in front of classmates or teachers. Children have the opportunity to bond with their canine mentor over a shared story, helping empower them to be more confident with their reading and communication skills.

The first guest for the program will be Chloe, a Great Pyrenees therapy dog.

"Chloe’s owner came in one afternoon and introduced us," Barker explained. "She offered to do a program for us and we were delighted. Chloe is certified with Therapy Dogs International. She’s a big dog but she’s very calm and sweet."

Barker said children can bring a book of their choice or pick one out when they get to the library.

"Each child will get a turn in the conference room, with Chloe and her handler," she explained. "The Richmond Hill Friends of the Library has always been great about supporting our programs. For this new event, they are going to buy a couple of big floor pillows for Chloe and the children, so that’ll be more comfortable."

Barker is asking parents who are interesting in bringing their child to the event to give her a call at 756-3580, so she has an estimate of how many children will be attending.

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