by Airman Valerie Monroy
JBER Public Affairs
1/7/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Library, along with Midnight Sun
Service Dogs, is offering the opportunity for children in kindergarten
through third grade to read to service dogs.
"Paws to Read is a program, where children who are having difficulty
reading are able to come in and read to therapy and service dogs," said
Phyllis Talas, 673d Force Support Squadron library technician. "It gets
them over their fear of reading out loud and gives them confidence when
they're just learning to read."
During the reading session, the children don't have to be worried about
making mistakes or stumbling because the dogs don't mind. If the
children need help with certain words they can get assistance from the
"If they look to the [dog] handler for help the handler will help them,
but we request that the parents don't correct or intervene," Talas said.
The JBER Library plans to have three dogs at most sessions and to slot
15 to 20 minute sessions for each child. If there is extra time
throughout the program or at the end, children are allowed extra time
with the dogs. "We have one little man that is extremely anxious to get
in there every time," said Talas.
So far, there have been three Paws to Read events.
For a program that is just beginning, many people have been pre-registering and bringing in their children.
"We believe it's progressing well," said Marcia Lee, 673d FSS library
director. "We have pre-registration and people are showing up because
they're interested in their children having this opportunity."
Pre-registration lets the librarians know how many dogs they need at
each session. For parents, it guarantees their child a slot, versus
coming in and waiting for an open spot. "If people make the effort to
call, they are guaranteed [a] spot for their child," said Lee.
The JBER Library has received only positive comments and feedback from
the parents and children. "We have a lot of repeat readers [because] the
parents feel that this is a worthwhile program and keep bringing their
children back," said Lee. In an effort to bring this program to more
children, the library is informing local schools about the
opportunities. "We're going to expand our offerings to the schools and
take our information there," said Lee.
The Paws to Read program is every third Saturday of the month.
Jan. 16 will be the next opportunity for children to participate and read to the service dogs uninterrupted.
To register or for information on more programs offered by the JBER Library, call 384-2665.