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published on 04/20/2006



Read Aloud Chattanooga Brings Reading Dogs to St. Andrews Center & St. Peter's School.

April 19, 2006) The four-legged learning motivation experts of Read Aloud Chattanooga will pay a visit this week to children at the St. Andrews Center at St. Peter's Episcopal School.

On Thursday, April 20 at 3:30 p.m., the Reading Dogs make a return visit to the St. Andrews Center (located in Highland Park), where Read Aloud Chattanooga's co-chair -- a golden retriever named Joshua -- celebrated his 14th birthday last month. On this visit, Joshua's daughter Brandy and their colleague Peppy will visit students in St. Andrews' after school program.

On Friday, April 21 at 9 a.m., Brandy and Peppy will visit students at St. Peter's Episcopal School (848 Ashland Terrace) for the first time.

What happens when a "Reading Dog" comes to call?

Both dogs have been certified as therapy dogs, so they are well behaved and accustomed to being with groups of children. They will be accompanied by their owners: Joyce Alves and Alice Clark. As each dog visits a classroom, children will read their favorite books to the dogs and show them the pictures.

"Dogs are attentive, loving listeners when children read to them, and that's one of the most important things for children who are starting to read aloud," said Beverly Trobaugh, director of the First-Centenary United Methodist Children's Enrichment Center, a flagship site for Read Aloud Chattanooga. "Children need to be able to read without fear of criticism or interruption. The dogs give them that gift."

Brandy and her father Joshua serve as Co-Chairs of Read Aloud Chattanooga, with Peppy joining them as Publicity Chair. "When we saw how much these dogs motivated children to read, we realized we humans just can't compete, so we put the dogs in charge," said Bill Thurman, founder of Read Aloud Chattanooga.

The use of reading dogs to help young readers is one of several learning motivation projects Read Aloud Chattanooga has organized in Chattanooga and surrounding communities over the last several years. Others include painting read aloud murals that promote reading in 27 locations (and counting); sponsoring numerous presentations by Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook; installing "rain gutter bookshelves," which increase children's demand for reading because they allow the books to face out where they can be seen more easily; and training volunteers in how to read aloud effectively.

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