Thea Johnson sits on the floor of the Community Room at the Byram Shubert Library reading "Flatfoot Fox and the Missing Whoooo" to a new friend.
As she reads, its hard to tell whether Mac the Labrador is enjoying the story or having his stomach rubbed. "He likes when I tickle his belly," said Johnson.
Every Wednesday, three to seven certified therapy dogs sit as children of all ages read to them. The Reading Education Assistance Dogs program is meant improve a child's reading and communication skills. R.E.A.D. programs are offered in libraries and schools throughout the United States.
"It's a chance for children to have fun at the library," said Miguel Garcia-Colon, branch manager. "Children get to enhance their reading skills and an opportunity to spend time with a dog if they don't have one."
At least 25 to 30 children have been coming to the weekly sessions since the program began in March. Colon said that some kids come every week just to read to the dogs.
"We have kids who read alone or with friends," said Colon. "Its a non-judgmental and very comfortable atmosphere. We even have families come and read together."
As Johnson finds Mac's ticklish spot, she forgets about her book and focuses on the dog, giving him a good scratch before she leaves.
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