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At the library: Cloquet Library news

The Cloquet Public Library has been hosting the Barks & Books program every second Thursday of the month, 4-5:10 p.m., since January. When our children's librarian, Morgan Reardon, started working at the library last fall, she was eager to demonstrate her programming ideas. She heard of other libraries offering therapy dog programs with great success.

Reading with therapy dogs has been proven to encourage positive relationships with reading.

On Thursday, July 13, two therapy dogs, Tiara and Trapper, came to the library with their handlers, Farrah Grimm and Ardis Williams. Children and caregivers who previously signed up for the program visited the dog of their choice and spent 20 minutes reading with them.

During the sessions, the dogs lay calmly on the floor right by their handler. The children chose a few books to read before the session and sat with the dog and handler. While the dogs sat quietly and provided a supportive presence, the handlers engaged the children, gave them positive feedback, provided assistance, and asked some questions accordingly.

Lucas, 4, and Alex Copenhaver, 5, visited Tiara with their parents that day. This was their third or fourth time coming to the Barks & Books program. Their mother, Kelly, said her sons love the library, dogs, and books - putting them all together was a dream for them. She also thinks having the dog makes reading in front of people less intimidating for her older son, Alex, and the dogs make for a fun and unique reading experience.

Farrah Grimm, who is also a middle school science teacher, agrees with the benefit of reading to dogs. She thinks it can be a relaxing and less intimidating and stressful experience for a child compared to reading out loud in front of peers.

According to the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program, animals are ideal reading companions because they:

• Help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure;

• Listen attentively;

• Do not judge, laugh, or criticize;

• Allow children to proceed at their own pace;

• Are less intimidating than peers.

Is your child having trouble reading? Are you interested in visiting one of the library's three therapy dogs? If so, please visit our library website http://www.cloquetlibrary.org for the link to sign up for the Barks & Books program. The next session will be 4-5:10 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10.

Keiko Satomi is the adult services librarian at Cloquet Public Library.