Ruff Reading
| April 29th, 2010

Reading to Dogs

Ruff Reading™ Therapy Dog Program

Reading to DogsTeaching a dog to jump through hoops and ride a skateboard is incredibly fun and satisfying. But with the introduction of our new Ruff Reading™ Therapy Dog Program, the Zoom Room is ready to leap to the next level: teaching your dog to help children learn to read.

Reading to dogs, it turns out, is easier for many young learners than reading to grown-ups. All of the anxieties and frustrations that children encounter when asked to read aloud simply melt away when their audience is a good-natured, overgrown teddy bear of a dog.


A few cities across the country have experimented with children reading to dogs in special weekend programs, and have met with wonderful results. The format could not be any simpler: the children pick out a favorite storybook, get comfortable, and then read to dogs. The rest is pure animal magic.

Therapy Dog Program

The Zoom Room has offered therapy dog training since its inception, helping clients receive Pet Partners certification. Our clients adore the idea of training their dog to bring love and comfort to those who need it most. Traditionally this has meant looking for placements in the local community among retirement homes, hospitals, and so on.

Now with the advent of our Ruff Reading™ Therapy Dog Program, once clients complete therapy dog training, they can come right back to the Zoom Room to share their dog with young, struggling readers.

Every Zoom Room features a children’s area complete with comfy seating, books and toys – in fact, the entire wall in our children’s area serves as a gigantic chalkboard, and plenty of big fat sticks of colorful sidewalk chalk are always at hand.

Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Our Ruff Reading™ program was developed by Zoom Room C.O.O. Mark Van Wye, who has collaborated on the creation of many of the afterschool educational programs for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and served as an educational consultant for children’s museums and educational television programming.

Our Zoom Room trained therapy dogs are portraits of gentleness, possessing patience that we grown-ups, whether we’re teachers or parents, can never hope to match. From an extremely early age, children instinctively recognize that dogs are at their heart non-judgemental creatures. They are, in a word, safe.

By reading to dogs, children develop greater self-confidence which is often the critical element necessary to overcome reading and learning difficulties. The dogs genuinely empower these young learners to – sometimes for the first time – enjoy the act of reading.

By placing our therapy dog program in the comfort of the Zoom Room, as opposed to a library, school, or even their home – all of which possess certain associations with traditional educational expectations and protocols, we let kids be kids, books be books, and dogs be dogs. Which, after all, is how it should be.

Helping your child learn to read is yet another way the Zoom Room continues to strive to be a meaningful partner in the lives of our community and to meet the needs of families everywhere.

Check with your local Zoom Room for details if you’d like to train your dog to be a therapy dog, or if you’d like to bring in your child to participate in Ruff Reading™.


2 Responses  
JoAnne Dignazio writes:

Hello, could you tell me if you have any programs in Philadelphia, PA. Thanks

Zoom Room writes:

Please contact our Philadelphia location for more help with this!


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