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Reading Help from Our Four-Legged Friends

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{Guest Post from Franticmommy}


I love the idea of engaging animals with kids and reading.

Our daughter recently had a wonderful experience with a very special reading buddy; an experience she is still talking about today. My community is blessed with a hero (a four-legged one) that helps kids feel confident while reading. Lulu the Reading Education Assistance Dog is a cherished addition to the Brainerd Public Library’s offerings and has been helping young library-goers polish their reading skills since the summer of 2013.

Lulu the reading therapy dog
Before moving to my community, Lulu’s owner Michelle McCaughtry shared with me that Lulu worked as a Reading Education Assistance Dog at the South St Paul Library through the READ program, but Lulu’s story and journey to become a reading therapy dog began long before that.

“We found Lulu when she was eight months old at a rescue center in the Twin Cities,” Michelle revealed. “One day my husband John called me and said ‘come look at this dog with me.’ At first I hesitated, but he kept pestering me so I finally conceded. The moment we met Lulu, she stole our hearts. We also knew from the very beginning that she was something special.” Soon thanks to Lulu’s sweet disposition and advanced training, the McCaughtry’s got involved with Intermountain Therapy Animals, and became certified for the READ program.

“Lulu is very patient and calm and is a great listener,” Michelle shared with me when I called I make arrangements for my Sara to read to Lulu. “Kids love reading to Lulu because she will never laugh, judge, correct or hurry them along. She’s a perfect listener.”

Not long after Sara’s session with Lulu, I received an excited email from Michelle; one that summed up the power of reading to big, sweet-eyed dog.

“During one of our reading sessions last week there was one little girl was clearly struggling – trying hard to sound out the words. Lulu for rolled over on her back and began gently tapping the little girl with her paw. The little girl started rubbing Lulu’s tummy and it was like a switch turned on and she was reading with ease! It was an amazing transformation. I’ve noticed that with other kids as well. If they are physically touching Lulu, they seemingly relax and it’s like the words are now suddenly clear and easy to read. It was a great night!”

It still makes my heart sing when I read that 🙂

Now if that didn’t make your eyes water and your nose run (grab a Kleenex!) this article about Animal Shelter Encourages Kids to Read to Homeless Cats will! This amazing article recounts how an animal shelter in Pennsylvania is helping young students improve their reading skills in the most heartwarming way imaginable — by offering them a rapt audience of needy felines. Please read this article in its entirety HERE.


Whether feline, canine, bird or farm animal, I think as parents we need to look closer to home for the four-legged, furry, winged or beaked reading buddies that could be just what our struggling young readers need.

Is there a four-legged reading buddy in your life?
Becky Flansburg is Supreme Commander at Franticmommy, owner of LAMS Communications and Project Manager for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Becky is a blogger, writer, virtual assistant, and social media junkie. The main goal of Franticmommy is to provide info, tips, and ideas to make women entrepreneur’s lives EASIER and also prove that there is life beyond the cubicle.

5 thoughts on “Reading Help from Our Four-Legged Friends

  1. Our local library has a similar program, and I am so grateful for it because when my daughter was younger, she was having quite a bit of difficulty with reading, and participating in this program really helped her gain the confidence she needed. Great post bringing attention to this wonderful program!

  2. What a wonderful post!
    Our kids went with their 4H group to a nursing home. They paraded their goats, lambs, and dogs through the halls and into the rooms. You should have seen the smiles (and yes, there were a few messes on the floor but they were quickly cleaned up.) It was amazing how responsive these elderly dears became when they had a chance to interact with the animals and children.
    I wonder if my dog could become a reading buddy?

  3. Thank you Becky for sharing your loving story of Sara getting to read to Lulu. Such a special dog indeed and a sweet little girl too. I also loved the article about the cats. It’s a heart warming event when we can combine our love of animals and our love of reading. Thanks for guest posting on Jump into a Book !!!

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