Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University say second-grade students who read aloud to a dog during the summer seem to maintain their reading skills.
The study involved students with a range of reading aptitudes and attitudes toward reading, who were paired with dogs -- or with people -- and asked to read aloud to them once a week for 30 minutes in the summer, the researchers say.
Lisa Freeman, one of the study's authors and the research mentor for lead author Dawn Lenihan, a third-year veterinary student, says by the end of the summer, the students who read to the dogs experienced a slight gain in their reading ability and improvement in their attitudes toward reading -- measured on the Curriculum-Based Measurement and Elementary Reading Attitude Survey. Those who read to people experienced a decrease on both measures, the study says.
Of the students who read to the people, one-third failed to complete the program. No students left the dog-reading group, the researchers add.
Students reading to the dogs were enrolled in the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) Program, a non-profit organization that encourages children to read through the use of therapy animals and runs programs at the Grafton, Mass., public library, the study says.