Inverness pupils 'enjoying' books by reading to dogs

By Jackie O'Brien
BBC Scotland news

image captionPupils say having a dog in the reading corner makes them feel more relaxed

Children at a school in Inverness are being encouraged to read books to dogs.

Pupils at Crown Primary have said that they feel relaxed and enjoy books more when reading them aloud to retrievers Blue and Morna.

Hannah Earnshaw, a probationary teacher, is piloting the scheme at the school.

She suggested bringing in the two dogs after researching the benefits of the pets in boosting the confidence of reluctant readers.

image captionDogs do not ask for sentences to be repeated, say the pupils
image captionThe children's teacher has been researching the benefits of pets in the classroom

The children have told of feeling happier reading to Blue and Morna because, "unlike grown ups", they do not ask them to repeat sentences and also give them time to think about what they are saying.

Ms Earnshaw said: "The kids that are reading to the dogs rather than reading to me improved significantly more in a reading test than the ones just reading to me.

"Also, the children who read to the dogs enjoyed the reading experience more than the kids that read to me.

"So to me that suggests that not only does it have a direct impact on reading, it also impacts on their enjoyment of reading."

Ms Earnshaw recruited the help of her aunt Catriona Addy, who is a volunteer for the organisation Pets as Therapy, to bring in dogs for the reading sessions.