Boston: Parents, take note! Reading aloud to dogs may encourage your child to read more books and develop a
positive attitude towards academics, scientists say. “Our results suggest that reading to dogs in an academic setting has the potential to provide motivation, which will help inform future research into this animal-assisted intervention,” said Deborah Linder, research assistant professor at Tufts University in the US.
Reading skills are often associated with improved academic performance and positive attitudes about school in children.
Researchers divided second-grade school students into two groups. For six weeks, one group read to a therapy dog for about 30 minutes once a week, while the control group followed a standard classroom curriculum.
Children’s reading skills were assessed biweekly and attitudes about reading were assessed before and after the intervention. Participants read passages aloud for one minute while teachers assessed their ability to read and comprehend the passage. Reading attitudes were assessed by asking 10 questions about attitudes to recreational reading and 10 about academic reading. Children selected pictorial responses that offer expressions ranging from “very upset” to “very happy.”
Researchers found that scores assessing academic reading attitudes increased significantly among the children who read
aloud to dogs. They noted that reading skill scores did not change significantly in either group, nor did attitudes about
recreational reading outside of school. “One of the most important aspects of facilitating reading skill development is motivating a child to engage in reading,” said Lisa Freeman, professor at Tufts University. The study appears in the Early Childhood Education Journal.