Therapy dogs to the rescue for underconfident child readers at Selby library

Children struggling with reading confidence in a North Yorkshire town have been given an unexpected tool to help - the company of two Labradors.

Ava Firthlock, pictured with her mother Kellie Hartnell and one of the therapy dogs, has benefitted from the reading sessions at Selby library

The dogs, named Dora and Morgan, will attend sessions at Selby Library to help build children’s confidence when they have fears about criticism of their reading.

Library staff hope the dogs could also help restore language skills among children who have had little interaction due to the pandemic lockdowns.

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Outreach librarian Alison Tutill originally came up with the idea after reading of similar work in the USA and recruited help from the Pets as Therapy group and started sessions a couple of years ago.

The sessions had to be cancelled due to lockdown, but will restart again from Saturday August 25.

Children taking part in the sessions are given a comfy beanbag from which they read to Dora and Morgan from their chosen storybook.

Ms Tutill said: “We have been desperate to set it up again, when we were allowed to. We had a booking system, so people didn’t just turn up, and were getting lots of bookings.

“One woman told us her daughter would not read to anyone, but she then spent 15 minutes reading to the dog. Her mum was amazed.”