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Pet project

Workshop encourages children to read to dogs to overcome fear of reading aloud.

india Updated: May 08, 2011 15:27 IST
Shweta Mehta

Don’t be surprised if you spot a dog at your local bookstore today. It’s only there to help your child read.

Tails of Joy is an animal assisted reading programme, which is aimed at helping children overcome their fears of reading out loud, or to an audience. The event, organised by Crossword Bookstore and Animal Angels Foundation, will be held today and next Sunday, after meeting with resounding success the first time it was held three years ago.

Circle of trust
“We get dogs to the store, and make the children sit in a circle around them and read aloud to them,” says Tanaz Lakdawala, customer sare associate and deputy manager – Marketing, Crossword.

“The dogs are domesticated and harmless. They are specially trained to sit calmly and listen to the children talk. They don’t bark or run around. We refer to them as reading buddies.”

During the course of the one-hour session, children are encouraged to read out their favourite stories, while their canine friends lend them a patient ear.

“It really helps them to build their confidence,” says Lakdawala, informing that till date, the sessions have been well-attended and enjoyed. They are also free of cost, and can accommodate between 45-60 children per session.

The workshop has been designed on the premise that unlike humans, animals prove to be good reading companions because of their ability to listen attentively.

Man’s best friend
And since they don’t judge the reader or offer any critiques, the child can overcome all apprehensions and fears of making mistakes while speaking.

Crossword has been conducting children-centric events every Sunday, targeting the age group of 3-13 years, but this workshop eliminates any age barrier. “Of course, we designed it keeping the needs of children in mind, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t come too,” smiles Lakdawala.