Sophie, Kempston Library's Reading Dog


Kempston Library are offering sessions with a Pets as Therapy dog once a month to encourage children to read and build their confidence in reading aloud.

One Saturday a month, the dog, Sophie, comes in with her owners to sit with children while they read to and interact with her.

The sessions last ten minutes and can be booked up until April 2020.

James Smiles, 30, manager of Kempston Library said: “It’s about understanding that children – and some teenagers – don’t like to read to another human being. Whereas, reading to a dog is a completely different concept so they will just talk and talk and talk.”

Ally Tree, 29, carer from Bedford said: “I’ve brought my sons a few times now and they always enjoy themselves. It’s nice to see them reading to Sophie and having fun rather than being stressed.”

Library assistant Holly Fraser suggested the idea to her manager after she’d seen images of Pets as Therapy dogs in schools on Twitter and organised the sessions with Pets as Therapy.

Holly, 21 said: “The more times they come, the more they’ll notice how beneficial it is and, hopefully, it’s something that stays here and lasts a long time.”

Sophie with library assistant Holly Fraser

Pets as Therapy is a charity founded in 1983 that uses animals to improve the health and well-being of communities across the UK.

The 10-year-old canine has been a Pets as Therapy dog for six years and was a canine partner for three years before that.

Holly added: “I came up with the idea because when I was younger, I was nervous of reading out loud and hated the idea of reading in front of a class. I’d get all embarrassed.

“It is a lovely idea to just bring animals into the library, as well as the fact that will help children grow their confidence.”