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Literary program keeps kids reading, tails wagging

February 10, 2013

A young library patron of the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library poses with Guinevere, a family therapy dog.

BURRILLVILLE — Tails are wagging and kids are reading at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville.
A special library program called "Literary Tails" is designed with reluctant readers in mind with the hopes of turning youngsters ages of 6-12 into more confident readers.
As part of the program, family therapy dogs Guinevere and Theo, and their guardian, Cynthia Vanaudehove, set an inviting and relaxed atmosphere in which one child at a time can read a short story chosen by the reader to one of these two attentive canines. Guin or Theo listen happily and interact gently with each child for 15 to 20 minutes. While relaxing on comfy bean bag chairs, friends share time and a story.
The goal of the program is to build confidence, give time for practice and instill a love of reading that hopefully will last a lifetime. Since everything is more fun with a furry friend, this program is a real hit and success, library officials say.
"The spaniels provide a non-judgmental accepting venue and every reading level is welcomed. They just love a good story and the companionship of the youngsters," says Vanaudenhove, president of Windwalker Humane Coalition for Professional Pet Assisted Therapy.
"Its simply fun and in no time an entire story is enjoyed," she says. "Every child leaves with a feeling of success and a new friend made."
At the end of the session, every child gets to give their doggie audience a treat, a quick "hi-five" and take home a "proof-pawsitive" certificate of a job well done signed by Guin or Theo.
Guinevere and Theo are welcoming more children to sign up and register for the program by contact the library at (401) 710-7800.
The next scheduled Literary Tails session is Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m.

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