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Dogs lend a paw to help kids read at Estonia library

Tartu: A library in high-tech Estonia is getting children to read out loud to dogs to boost their confidence, reading and social skills with a little help from man’s best friend.

Tentel, the furry hound, falls asleep while six-year-old Ingrid reads to the dog at the library in Tartu. Pic/AFP
Tentel, the furry hound, falls asleep while six-year-old Ingrid reads to the dog at the library in Tartu. Pic/AFP

Tentel the long-haired Afghan Hound, a peppy Golden Retriever named Elli and a fluffy Newfoundland named Leero lend their ears at the library in the eastern city of Tartu twice a month. “For kids who have problems with reading or low self esteem there is no better therapy than to practise reading aloud to a dog,” said project manager Ewa Roots.

“Dogs are calm listeners and unlike other kids or adults, will never be critical when a child makes mistakes while reading,” Roots said. “Sessions with dogs boost self confidence and children start to feel more free and secure to express themselves,” she added.

Estonia library, Hatke news
Kevin, 5, reads to a dog hired by a library. Pic/AFP

The innovative educational project launched in February is free of charge and available to all children. Most are five to six years old, some are up to 10 and there is even one 16-year-old. The library in Tartu encourages youngsters to have eight to 10 half-hour sessions of reading to their new four-legged friends.

“Children first decide which dog they like the most,” Roots explained. “When the shyest children see someone starting to read to their dog, they will soon do the same,” she noted. Leero was happy to listen to Harti, a six-year-old boy, read. But Tentel fell asleep on six-year-old Ingrid, who nevertheless kept on reading.

Did you know?
Literacy in Estonia, which has a population of 1.3 million, is 100 per cent

Don’t leave your cats home alone
Barcelona has drafted a new law in which cat owners can’t leave their cats home alone for more than three days. People will also be fined for feeding pigeons in parks.

>> Library in Estonia is getting kids to read out loud to dogs 
>> The method is supposed to boost the their self esteem
>> Project is free of cost and began in February

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