16 August 2011

Study shows reading aloud to dogs improves children's ability and desire to read

If you want your kids to become accomplished readers, it turns out that Fido might be a better teacher than you.

A new study out of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University suggests that reading aloud to dogs may actually help children improve their ability and desire to read.

It turns out that it’s a lot more fun to read to the dog who is patient and never hurries you along or tells you that you got a word wrong.

“The benefit of the dog is they’re not judgmental, and they are great listeners,” said Lisa Freeman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at Tufts. “It really builds their confidence.”

The study followed the progress of 18 second-graders over a period of five weeks last summer. The kids were divided into two groups. One group read aloud to dogs and the other half read to a person.

At the end of the five weeks the children were evaluated. Researchers did note a difference between the two groups, with an increase in the words read per minute by the children in the dog group, and a decrease among children who spent the time reading to people.

The Tufts study was small and the results are not statistically significant, but it raises interesting questions about the positive effects that animals can have on kids.

Sara Best | @plantpoweredmom
Sara is currently studying to become a Certified Holistic Nutritionist. She’s also a busy working mom with two little omnivores and one dedicated carnivore at home. She started her website, Plant-Powered Mom, to help other busy moms and dads reap the many benefits of a plant-based lifestyle while still keeping all the balls in the air and having some fun along the way. Sara lives near Toronto, Ontario. Visit Sara's blog.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/fcpl