Future reading stars practiced their skills at the Wednesday night as they read to their new furry friends during the PAWS for Reading program.
The Paws for Reading program, run by PAWS for People, is held at 6:45 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at the Media Library.
Each child spends time with a dog and owner team and reads a book or tells their four-legged friend about their day.
The goal of the program is to get kids comfortable with reading and communicating, with no judgement from their furry friend, Media-UP Library Youth Services Librarian Brittany Eastman said.
"They practice their skills in a non-judgemental environment," Eastman said.
She said the kids don't always immediately read to the dog. Some kids need some warm up time and just cuddle with the dog for awhile. But the next time the child attends PAWS for Reading, he or she has a book in hand, ready to read.
Sue DiMascio, the owner and trainer of Jake, a labrador mix, took her 6-year-old son to a PAWS for Reading program several years ago and he loved every minute of it.
She said when they would go home she'd suggest to her son, that he should teach their own dog, Jake, how to read and it helped her son to refine his reading skills.
"(Her son) was pulled out of his school's reading speciality program within a month," DiMascio said.
Along with helping her son hone his reading skills, DiMascio said she also knew she had the perfect dog to get involved with the program as well.
After several months of training and certification, Jake was ready to "read" and according to his autography book, he has been listening to kids read since 2007.
Richard Minnick, the owner and trainer of Taylor, a keeshond, said Taylor had a long road to becoming a therapy dog.
Taylor, a rescue dog, was found chained under a porch several years ago and Minnick rescued and nursed Taylor and her sister back to health.
Once Taylor was healthy again, Minnick realized her personality and empathy would make her an excellent therapy dog.
After much training and certification tests, Taylor now comforts all types of people in need. Along with listening to children read, Taylor is involved with senior citizen groups, people with Alzheimer's and Autism and even helps families who are awaiting a military member to arrive home by entertaining children and calming nerves.
"Our goal is to remove the daily pressures even just for a little bit," Minnick said.
Please call, email or stop by the library to register for the PAWS for Reading program. The program is free but space is limited due to the one-on-one nature of the program. It is recommended for children ages 5 to 11 but there is no age limit or requirement.
To learn more about PAWS or to make a donation please visit www.pawsforpeople.org.