Reading dogs in Pirkkala
Nuoliala Library in Pirkkala has been providing the chance to read to dogs since the beginning of 2013. Our current reading dogs are the flat-coated retriever Milo and the whippets Piri and Polle from Suomen Karva-Kaverit ry. At Nuoliala Library, the reading time is every Tuesday night from 6 to 7 pm, at which time anyone can book a time and come read to a dog. The reading dog session lasts for about 15 minutes. Only the dog handler is present in addition to the reader and the dog. If the reader wishes, a parent, a friend or some other close person may also be present at the reading session.
In Pirkkala, everyone who comes to read to a dog receives a reading passport, to which they get a new sticker for each session. Once the reader has read five times and gained five stickers, they receive a small reward from the library.
Why read to dogs?
The task of the reading dog is to be there and listen to the reader. The dog does not criticise or point out mistakes. It merely listens, accepting what it hears and giving attention to the reader. The purpose of the reading dog activities is to encourage reading and support learning to read without performance anxiety. Several studies have found this to encourage reading, especially in young children. The presence of a dog has been found to have a calming effect and allow children to focus on learning to read.
Studies have shown that a short stay of a dog in the library does not significantly increase the amount of dander, which is always present in public spaces, so libraries have good conditions for reading dog activities. In Nuoliala, the reading dog visit takes place during the library’s last opening hour in the classroom next to the library, which is well cleaned the very next morning. Thus, allergic customers or students do not inadvertently come into contact with the dogs.
In Pirkkala, the reading dogs are Milo, Piri and Polle. Milo is a flat-coated retriever and Piri and Polle are both whippets. Milo and Polle are boys and Piri is a girl. Milo is big, brown and enthusiastic and the kindest gentleman in the world. Polle is still a young pup and comes from Norway. However, he already understands Finnish very well, so you can read to him in Finnish. That will give him the chance to learn more too! Piri is an old lady retired from her career as a sporting dog, but in her free time she still likes to run and enjoys working as a reading dog.
All of our reading dogs are very fond of children, so there is no reason to be afraid of them.
Reading dog activities are carried out in cooperation with Suomen Karva-Kaverit. Visit their website for more information.