Getting Kids Reading

Do your kids read to dogs, cats or other pets? Why your pet is a secret reading helper

You may have noticed some cute pictures of kids reading to dogs in a local library or even at school.  Well, it’s not just cute, it’s a proven way of improving kids literacy in early years and is part of many successful literacy programs.   Reading to a pet creates an environment where kids feel more relaxed and confident about reading – the dog doesn’t judge! If you’ve got a pet at home; dog, cat, fish, then encouraging your child to read to the pet will help them learn to love reading. 

We are delighted that Bark and Read is our guest on this post.  Bark & Read is a UK charity and  is part of the famous Kennel Club, created to help local charities bring specially trained dogs into schools for children to read with.  There are many organizations around the world, such as Bark & Read who bring dogs into school to help children read.  Ciara Farrell from the Kennel Club explains what Bark & Read does:

Did you know that dogs love books too?  That’s what Bark & Read is all about – helping children to learn to love reading with the support of these amazing doggy companions.  Reading with dogs is one of the most successful literacy programs.

When kids read to dogs their reading and confidence is given a boost. The Kennel Club explains why they train dogs to read in schools to improve child literacy

Reece Cameron  reads to Willow the dog as part of supported reading at the school with dogs from Therapet Photo by Jamie Simpson/Herald & Times) – JS

How does it work?

This idea is very simple, but the effect, both on reading levels and behaviour is really quite remarkable. Reading to and interacting with a classroom dog helps children to love reading, overcome shyness and increase their confidence, and improve concentration and behaviour. 

“It is the highlight of the children’s week and one little boy who does not really talk went back after reading to Bob, stood up and told the class what he had done, with the biggest smile on his face.”

Sally Marsh, P.A.T volunteer at Bunbury School, part of the Pets as Therapy Read 2 Dogs programme

Reading to dogs is effective because of the calming effect of the dog’s presence.  The dog will listen to the children read without being judgemental or critical. This helps to nurture enthusiasm for reading and provides children with the confidence needed to read aloud and enjoy the experience of reading.

At Bark & Read we work with partners around the country that bring specially trained and assessed support dogs to schools and libraries.  Our partners are all established animal-assisted therapy charities with years of experience on how to make this a safe and enjoyable activity for dogs and children alike.  All the volunteers and dogs do this work at no cost to the schools.

 “Google is a very handsome and interesting dog.  He can do lots of tricks – he is inspiring. I think since going to classes with Google I have been able to speak up more than I would have done before.  My confidence has also picked up. I was afraid of dogs before I started classes with Google, but I am not anymore.” 

Shauna, a Year 8 pupil at Chace Community School, part of Google (the dog) Literacy Project

When kids read to dogs their reading and confidence is given a boost. The Kennel Club explains why they train dogs to read in schools to improve literacy programs.

Bark and Read dog Google working with school children in Enfield (Chace Community School)

“I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful opportunity that George has had this term being able to read to the dogs. I’ve seen such a big improvement with his reading and also with his overall confidence. I cannot thank you enough for giving children this opportunity, such a great idea. My older son Matthew was also selected to read to a dog which helped him significantly with his development. He still loves talking about them.  George was also overwhelmed with his rosette & certificate.”

Parent of child taking part in the Caring Canines reading programme.


Reading to dogs creates an environment where children feel empowered to pick up books and read, much like the ideas behind Geraldine’s original design for the Tidy Books bookcase.  Kids who feel confident around books and reading will go on to become lifelong bookworms.

Tell us,  is there an organization like Bark & Read where you are?  Or does your child read to your pet at home? We would love to see your pictures! 


About Géraldine Grandidier

Géraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile. She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids. Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

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