Breaking News
More () »

How therapy dogs and stuffed animals are helping Cleveland students become better readers

‘Reading is cool.’

CLEVELAND — Encouraging young children to read sometimes requires a little creativity.

At Artemus Ward School in Cleveland, their media specialist Anne Marie Brown has come up with some ways to help kids become stronger and more confident readers.

“In December, the students pre-school through 3rd grade got to adopt one of the 500 stuffed animals that were donated. They picked one out and named it and got a certificate. They had to promise to read to it for 20 minutes a day.”

The Reading Adoption Program gives students a physical representation -- a reminder to read -- and a promise to their teacher and family.

“I wanted to motivate the kids before winter break that reading is important every day. Even if you are on break.”

That break could be vacation, or a break just to get in some deep breathing and the occasional pose.

Linda Hernandez leads the students through relaxing exercises, allowing students moments to pause and read.

“We call it ‘R&R yoga’ -- reading, rabbit yoga. It’s a stress-free environment. They build fluency skills, they’re able to learn some coping skills for stresses in school and outside of school.”

And that’s where the final program comes in. Not only de-stressing with the therapy dogs, but sitting down and reading to them.

“They’re able to build confidence in themselves. They have a bond with the animal. There’s nobody that’s judging them. There are no test scores. It’s just a nice fun reading experience.”

Brown says she hopes thinking outside of the box will also work outside of the classroom.

“I just want to communicate with parents more about the importance of reading and reading every day and anywhere, just like in yoga.”

RELATED: Coors Light is paying dog adoption fees across the country until Feb. 21

RELATED: How a therapy dog is changing students' lives at Lakewood High School

Before You Leave, Check This Out