Sasha Mix, 8, of Batavia read aloud to a dog for the first time at the Paws for Tales reading skills program at Batavia Public Library on Saturday. Bozeman the dog, 5, sat patiently by her side as she read "Bad Kitty School Daze" by author Nick Bruel.
She said she enjoyed reading to him because he was well-behaved. Sasha was one of nine girls and boys who signed up for the program for first- through fourth-graders to practice their reading skills by reading a book of their choice aloud to the specially-trained therapy dogs during a 15-minute time slot.
The goal of the ongoing program presented by the Naperville Area Humane Society is to create a positive, nonthreatening and fun environment in which reading aloud is enjoyed.
Terri Hancock, Humane Education Manager for the Naperville Area Humane Society brought her dog, Cisco, 10. She adopted him three years ago and has been a part of the program for just as long.
"His job is to make people smile and make kids feel more comfortable when they're reading and feel good about reading. They're reading to him, not to me. So he's never going to judge them; he's not going criticize if they get a word wrong or if they skip a page. He's just going to snuggle up to them and love them no matter what."
Michael Stark, 6, of Batavia has been to each of the four sessions offered so far and read to Cisco. He also reads to his Labrador puppy, Sadie, at home. Bozeman, who has been the program for two years, is owned by volunteer Gail Banning of Aurora.
The next session at the Batavia Public Library is next Saturday at 1 p.m. Registration is required. Call the library (630) 879-1393, ext. 500, or visit bataviapubliclibrary.org for more information.