Reading companions at Franklin library

The local Paws 4 a Cause organization is holding hour-long reading sessions this winter at Franklin Public Library where school-aged children are invited to practice their skills with therapy dogs.

Infants are also invited to listen to one of the therapy dog owners read a book to them.

Paws 4 a Cause is affiliated with R.E.A.D. (Read, Enjoy and Discover) and “provides assistance dogs for reading therapists.”

Dustin McElhattan, the administrator for the reading events, said the program started at the library in 2020 but wasn’t held last year because of the pandemic.

“A therapy dog’s job is to be comforting to the general public,” McElhattan said. He explained that a lot of kids have anxiety about reading, so practicing to read to dogs in a less stressful environment helps “reduce the anxiety of reading.”

The librarians typically pick out age appropriate books for the children to read, but McElhattan said a girl brought her own book during one of the sessions.

“(The kids) are excited to see the dogs and practice reading, but they are less excited about (reading) than they are to see the dogs,” he said.

Seven-year-old Ali O’Rourke of Rocky Grove confirmed McElhattan’s statement when she nodded her head and smiled after she was asked if her favorite part was petting the dogs.

McElhattan said he hopes to continue the program a few more times in the year, including in the fall.