Jake Griffiths and JJ Greenaway, from OLSCC, with Story Dog Sammy.
Jake Griffiths and JJ Greenaway, from OLSCC, with Story Dog Sammy. Sam Flanagan

Dogs make the best reading buddies

WHEN Jacqueline Jenkinson saw the difference an adorable dog could make to a child's reading skills, she knew it was an idea she'd love to see in action here in Dalby.

Mrs Jenkinson is the teacher librarian at Our Lady of the Southern Cross College and went to Southern California in the United States on an internship a few years back.

While there she came across Story Dogs, an initiative that aims to help youngsters develop confidence in their reading by offering a furry audience that listens well, doesn't interrupt and doesn't correct.

When she returned home, she looked around for something similar, in Dalby, but the closest chapter of Story Dogs was on the Sunshine Coast.

So when she got a call from local Lyn Clancy, who was thinking about having her dog Sam trained to become a Story Dog, she jumped at the chance.

By April last year Lyn and Sam were all trained up and qualified to start and since then Mrs Jenkinson has had the joy of watching her young charges improve their reading skills and confidence, not to mention their enthusiasm for reading in general.

This year, Story Dogs is celebrating nine years in Australia and helping some 2000 children learn to love reading.

Story Dogs is now in 200 schools and has 400 dog teams.

Dalby is fortunate to have three teams.

Story Dogs managing director and co-founder Janine Sigley said the program was fast growing in popularity.

"It is your average calm, gentle family pet that makes a great Story Dog,” says Ms Sigley "The best part about the program is that it is a win/win situation for all involved,” she said.

"The dogs love the attention, the kids love the dogs, the volunteers get enormous satisfaction in seeing the children grow into being better readers and teachers love the extra help for their struggling readers.”

If you would like to help fund more Dog Teams to help more children learn to read please visit the web site www.storydogs.org.au. If you would like to become a volunteer Dog Team see the information pack, also on the web site www.storydogs.org.au/how-to-volunteer.

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