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02/12/2011 Reading to dogs gives confidence

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THE KENNEL Club has decided to launch its own charitable foundation in an effort to help halt the decline in child illiteracy.

KC’s Charitable Trust’ new project will help and support the network of dogs that already go into classrooms and libraries to help children.

The idea is that a child will read out loud to a dog, which will not be passing any judgements on their ability and gain more confidence in their reading abilities.

There are two charities which take dogs into UK schools, Reading Education Assistance Dogs and Pets As Therapy who already visit more than 40 schools already.

Actress Zoe Wanamaker has added her support to the Bark & Read Foundation. Discover Dogs has been set up in the wake of figures showing that one in five children still leave school unable to read or to write. The show at Earls Court will feature a reading corner for under 12’s where they will be able to read to a dog. The actress said “Reading is such an important skill that is used in every part of our lives, but it can be a scary and intimidating experience when you are young”. “As with anything in life, you have to practice, practice and practice to get better. That is why the Bark & Read project is such an inspiring idea, as we all know that dogs are great listeners and won’t judge if we stumble over a word.

A Kennel Club spokesman Caroline Kisko said: “Dogs don’t judge and they don’t laugh or correct if a child makes a mistake. They are simply great listeners, and this makes all the difference for children who are struggling to read. They caught onto this idea in the US a long time ago and there is plenty of proof that it works.

“We hope that people will support the project by donating money or, if they have a dog, by coming forward and seeing if they could be a potential volunteer so that more children can benefit.”

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