In March, students in preschool through 4th grades celebrated Read Across America week by reading to and interacting with a variety of well trained “Furry Angels”. These dogs are a part of the Bright and Beautiful therapy dog program. These wonderful dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, public libraries and schools. At school, the dogs provide the children with a calm, non-judgmental audience which allows even reluctant and emerging readers to feel confident enough to take a chance and read aloud. Animal safety and appropriate behavior around dogs is an important component of the program and the therapy dogs provide the children with an opportunity to practice the safe behaviors learned prior to the visit. Preschool students, who are not yet reading, are able to interact verbally and non verbally with the dogs and this helps to build language skills. Participation is voluntary and over the past six years it has grown to be an enormously popular event. The school librarian, Lorri Ann Wahlgren, organizes this program each year and has another therapy dog event scheduled for April.
Lorri Ann Wahlgren