When visiting Tucson recently, some of The Armarium Press team discovered the Pima County Public Library’s Read-to-a-Dog program. We’ve heard about read-to-a-dog events at indie bookstores elsewhere around the country, but this is the most extensive such program we’ve come across: About a dozen Tucson-area library branches participate weekly. The concept is that children–specifically early readers and those who might be having a little trouble reading at their grade level–find dogs a comfortable, non-judgmental audience.
At the Dusenberry-River branch, children’s librarian Meg Beer sets out an assortment of books at various reading levels for Friday afternoon story time. As the children arrive, they are given a numbered ticket and invited to pick a book (if they haven’t brought their own, such as this much-loved, out-of-print copy of Big Max, The World’s Greatest Detective).
Some weeks, all five registered pooches are in eager, tail-wagging attendance, Ms. Beer tells us. The day we visited only curly-haired Maddie (a wire fox terrier/poodle mix) was able to make it. Books clutched to their chests, the kids lined up for their turn to read didn’t seem to mind the wait at all.
Seeing the look of pride on the little ones’ faces, perhaps Chaucer should have his young fans read to him from his Chaucer in the Classroom series at his next event… rather than vice versa!