WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP — There is nothing better than a wet nose, wagging tail and a good book, at least that is what the children at Barnes & Noble on Saturday would say.
The bookstore held a K-9 Rad Readers event where area children read to Lilly, a black lab mix, and Brad Pit, a gray pit bull mix. The event was a fundraiser for Montessori School, Kingston.
“It is a joy for the children to read to dogs,” Maria Parra, co-president of the Montessori School, said. “The dogs do not judge if they struggle with a word.”
Other activities consisted of a birthday party for the Elf on the Shelf and cupcake decorating. Donna Wench, community relations manager at the store, said customers who asked had a portion of their sale donated to Montessori School.
The dogs were available for a good scratch behind the ear and a good book from noon to 2 p.m. in the children’s area. The fundraising went until 5 p.m.
Misty Simon, coordinator of K-9 Rad Readers, said reading to dogs helps the children academically and aids with the development of social skills.
“When kids read to dogs, studies prove an improvement in skills,” Simon said.
Even though Montessori School has a high literacy rate, the joy of reading to a furry pal adds enjoyment to the activity, said Kara Taylor, head teacher at Montessori School.
“We have a very strong reading rate,” Taylor said.
Dennis Puhalla, head of Montessori School, said the literacy in Luzerne County has been increasing over the years, noting it is a good reflection on the community and its school districts.
Both dogs had to go to school as well to be trained as therapy dogs. Michelle Zielinski, of Wilkes-Barre, sat with her dog, Brad Pit. She said both dogs completed a six week training course.
“The training does not stop when the class did,” Zielinski said. “They are consistently reviewing techniques.”
She said Brad Pit enjoys being read to and will often sit with his back up against the reader. During a similar event, she remembered watching a child point to pictures in the book and explain to Brad Pit what they were.
“It is fun to watch the children finish one book and go and grab another to read to the dogs,” Simon said.
Very willing to lend an ear, Lilly and Brad Pit laid down and listened as a group of five girls read different stories to them. Their reaction to the attention — a wagging tail. At one point, Lilly stood up and attempted to lick each child on the nose.
Corrin Stella said her two daughters, Reece, 6, and Aubrey, 4, could not wait to read to the dogs.
“We were here last night,” Stella said. “It is calming for the kids to have a reading buddy. It is a confidence builder.”
K-9 Rad Reader events can be organized for any literacy or arts group, Wench said. Contact Wench at 570-829-4352 for more information.