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WEST GOSHEN — The weather may still be warm out, but it didn’t deter the third graders from taking a few minutes under the shade to read to some lovable canines Tuesday afternoon.
As part of World Literacy Day, third graders from Glen Acres Elementary School gave up part of their recess time to sit under some trees on a blanket and read a book of their choosing to one of two therapy dogs visiting the school.
“Reading to an animal provides children with a positive motivation and helps children associate reading with something pleasant,” said Kara Root, a reading specialist at Glen Acres.
“I reached out to the West Chester library and was connected with local owners of therapy dogs.”
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Two dogs came out to Glen Acres: Faith, an 8-year-old greyhound rescued from the racetracks, and Charlie, an 11-year-old mix-breed retriever who has been training as a therapy dog since he was 4 months old.
Not all third graders participated, however — just those who were interested and had signed permission forms from parents or guardians.
Those who did choose to read gave up part of their recess time to spend with the dogs.
They came out in pairs of two to take turns reading to either Faith or Charlie.
“Students chose to read literature of choice; fiction, nonfiction or poetry,” Root said. “They all visited the library last week and were encouraged to pick out a book. They were also encouraged to bring in a book from home. In preparation for the visit, students were asked to do repeated readings of the book to help build reading fluency.”
The long, holiday weekend provided the perfect opportunity for each student to practice reading their book.
The excitement level was apparent as soon as each pair came outside — there wasn’t a single student without a smile on his or her face.
Some of the third graders were having so much fun that they would accidentally run over their allotted time with the canine companion.
Even the dogs enjoyed the attention, especially Charlie, who would roll onto his back as he listened to the stories being read to him.
“I feel the afternoon went very well,” Root said. “Every student was prepared and excited to read to a dog. Students were confident, fluent readers. Having an annual event like this would be wonderful.”