Tartu Library Offers Novel Help to Children Dogged by Shyness ({{commentsTotal}})

Twice a month on Wednesdays, the Tartu City Library invites children to come and read to dogs, offering a kind of therapy to children embarrassed about their bumpy road to full proficiency.

Learning to read can be an arduous task, especially when sitting next to a grownup pointing out all your mistakes or your peer chuckling at mispronunciations. It's a different story when your listener is patient, friendly, doesn't criticize and better yet, is also warm and fuzzy. That is the kind of audience that was first made available to children at the Tartu City Library yesterday, teadus.err.ee reported.

According to the library's human resources manager Ewa Roots, the idea came from Finland and other countries have used pigs and ponies for the same therapeutic purpose. The library has a special “Room of Fairy Tales” and the twice-monthly event brings several dogs to the room, so that as many children as possible could hone their reading skills.

The dogs are provided by the Estonian Association of Dog-Owners and according to its spokeswoman Jane Jaggo, all the dogs are experienced therapy dogs that have worked with children before and make for a non-judgmental listener.

“The children can be themselves. If they make a mistake, they can correct themselves if they wish. They don't have to fear an interruption in their reading process.”

The positive effects of canine company can be felt after about eight sessions, said Jaggo, who is quick to note that pupils don't necessarily have to come to the library – those with equally calm canine audience members can try it at home. The sessions at the library require prior registration by phone. Roots and Jaggo say the dogs will be available for sessions at the library as long as there are children interested in reading to them.

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