In the R.E.A.D. program, each child reads aloud to a therapy dog in either their local library or school. The books are age- and level-appropriate, and often animal-related in topic. After a child accomplishes the reading of ten books (which may take weeks, depending on skill level), s/he receives a brand new book of his/her choice that can be “pawtographed” by their canine reading companion. Thus, books are sent into the homes of the children. Some books have been donated to the program; R.E.A.D. purchases others from contributions in order to have a sufficient supply of the age- and reading-level books required. (Studies have shown that receiving a new book is valued significantly more by the child than receiving used books.)
R.E.A.D. programs are now flourishing in hundreds of schools and libraries throughout the U.S and beyond. Our award-winning training package, including a 25-minute video and 200-page manual, has won awards, and we have now tested and registered more than 2,300 therapy teams in 48 other states, Canada, Japan and England to conduct this program.
Our goal with increased funding is to be able to service the children at schools and libraries who are on our waiting list and provide increased training and support for our teams throughout the country.
Funds would enable R.E.A.D. to hold 10 new R.E.A.D. training workshops around the country and provide scholarships to train and qualify 5 additional R.E.A.D. instructors (adding to our nationwide pool of 38). This would in turn help establish many more local programs throughout the U.S. to help meet the ever-increasing demand from schools and libraries. Thousands more children could benefit from the joyful experience of reading with a dog.
Update: A story about Joshua and Journey
Joshua, a seven-year-old middle child of five kids, is always asking questions and in constant motion. He is precious. And he also happens to be autistic. Joshua could not speak until he was four-years-old. Joshua also has cerebral palsy and used to flap his arms and hands uncontrollably at the sight or mere thought of a ceiling fan. However, if you met Joshua today, you would not be able to tell any of this.
In fact, you would meet a smart and curious little boy who learned his academics and speech from years of therapy through the Early Autism Project. After all of these lessons, the only “difference” you could tell in Joshua was that he was still very indifferent and unemotional. That was until one of Joshua’s therapists took him to read with a dog named Journey. A few weeks after Joshua began reading to Journey, he became interested in his own pets as well. He also started talking to, loving and interacting with his dog and cat. Joshua even bridged the gap between his care for animals and his family. He began to care if the baby cried and feel happy when his mom smiled.