Dogs make good listeners in Indian Prairie Library reading program
Alex Styczynski reads to Marley during a night of reading to the dogs Aug. 6 at the Indian Prairie Public Library. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:10PM
DARIEN — For children just beginning to read or anxious about reading aloud, Indian Prairie Public Library’s Read to the Dogs program is designed to make reading a fun experience with the help of a comforting, furry face.
Marley, Driven, Kruiser, Gracie and Rosie were the five dogs at the library on Monday. During the program, offered to students in first through sixth grade, children took turns reading to a dog for 15 minutes each.
Classified as therapy dogs, the cuddly canines have undergone special training and are owned by volunteers from The Touch of Heeling. The organization does other Read to the Dogs-type events, and also visits adults and children in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice settings.
Sisters Cecilia Murphy, 7, and Samantha Murphy, 10, both took part in the Read to the Dogs program for the first time on Monday evening. Cecilia, who is learning to read, had a chance to read aloud to Rosie, a giant Schnauzer, from the children’s book Today I Will Fly. Samantha was reading from the aptly chosen Dogerella, a modern retelling of Cinderella, with Dogerella replacing the main character.
“I had a good time. As soon as I started reading, Rosie would fall asleep,” said Cecilia with a smile.
“I wish it was like that with our dogs at home,” said Burr Ridge resident Charlotte Murphy, Cecilia and Samantha’s mother. “We do a lot of the programs that the library offers. The girls haven’t done this one before, but we would definitely come back.”
Monday night’s program was the first in a series of three at the Indian Prairie Public Library. The program is also being offered on Aug. 13 and 20, though all of the 50 slots for readers — 25 each night — have already been filled.
“We’ve had the program available at the library since 2004,” Youth Services Program Coordinator Mary Jo Wolski said. “It always fills up very fast.”
Wolski originally met the director of The Touch of Heeling, Kim Mroczenski, when Mroczenski was doing the same program for the Homer Township Public Library District.
“When I first heard about the idea, I just thought it sounded like such a great literacy helper that I got in touch with Kim right away. Fortunately, she was able to work us into their rotation,” Wolski said.
For children interested but unable to attend the Indian Prairie program, the Brookfield Public Library offers R.E.A.D. to the Dogs on the 18th of every month, until the end of the year, and the Hinsdale Public Library also offers Pet Assisted Learning on Sept. 8, Oct. 6, Nov. 10 and Dec. 8. Registration is required.