Dogs Help Make Kids Better Readers

New study shows that reading to pets enhances reading ability.


Education, Pets
Little girl reading to her pet.

(New Africa /

Kids want to spend their summer vacations having fun in the sun with their friends. Reading may not even be on their radar. But if you add a cute dog, that could make reading an enjoyable activity.

Now a new unpublished study from the Talpiot College of Education in Holon, Israel found that reading to dogs helps to improve reading proficiency and fluency – the ability to read accurately and understand the content – because dogs provide a no- judgmental and supportive atmosphere, reported Ynet News.

The reading study
Three educators from the college,  Dr. Shirley Har-Tzvi Hacohen, Ortal Cohen and Ita Marla  decided to look at innovative ways to get kids to read more after the Education Ministry expressed concern over a significant drop in reading scores in fourth-grade students.

These students had reading difficulties because they did not go through school in person during the Covid19 pandemic, reported Isreal21. They missed out on reading practice with their peers during the second and third grades.

 “We sought to find an original way that would motivate students to want to practice their reading,” Har-Zvi, head of the special-education track and senior lecturer at the college told Isreal21 . “And to create that motivation, we decided to use dogs.”

The study, led by master’s student Ortal Levi divided 29 fourth-grade students from a school in central Israel into two groups.  Both groups were told to complete 10 reading sessions. The first group read out loud to themselves and the second group read to their dogs.

The results found that both groups' reading scores improved by the group that read to their pets had significant gains in accuracy. Har-Zvi  said: “When people hear about this, they’re a bit skeptical and ask, ‘Well, wouldn’t children also improve if they read out to a friend? Or to their parents or teacher?’

“The answer to that is yes, they would improve if they’d read out to friends, parents or teachers, but the problem is that they don’t, for a variety of reasons. Children are very busy with a lot of other things, and parents are also far less available nowadays. Not to mention that children worry about being judged and criticized – something they won’t get from dogs,” she explained.

Why do dogs encourage reading?
Reading to pets encourages kids to gain confidence and interest in reading, according to the pet food company Purina. That’s because the practice of  reading to dogs is used in home-schooling  to  help the kids obtain reading fluency. That’s because pets are comforting and nonjudgmental.

Einat Artzi, whose daughter participated in the experiment, told Ynet that her daughter Michaela "has loved dogs from a young age. Her experience of reading to dogs greatly strengthened her desire to read, and in my opinion, it improved her reading abilities.

Overall, the experience of integrating dogs into the classroom made her feel comfortable and safe, and she began to enjoy going to school. Michaela is now considered one of the top readers in her class and has a very rich vocabulary. Thanks to this, we also adopted a dog."

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