ASHEBORO N.C. – More than half of Randolph County students are reading below their grade level and the Juvenile Day Reporting Center’s new “Tales for Tails” program aims to combat this problem by combining reading and animals.
According to the Randolph County School’s annual report card:
- 54% of students in North Carolina are not proficient in reading.
- 60% of Randolph County students are not proficient and are below the grade level.
- 49% of students in Randolph County perform below average in English.
“Reading proficiency is highly correlated with future success and high school graduation,” says Pamela Resch, Director of the Juvenile Day Reporting Center. “Reading helps children learn to make sense of the world around them while building into social-emotional skills and imagination.”
To help combat this problem, in March of 2023, the Juvenile Day Reporting Center decided to use its experience in providing tutoring and academic enhancement services for youth, to start a new program called “Tales for Tails”.
The program combines reading and interaction with animals through a weekly event where students visit animals at the County Animal Services Shelter and read aloud to them.
In an email Resch said that reading aloud has many benefits, including helping to improve literacy skills. “Animals don’t judge a child’s reading skills, which may encourage embarrassed or struggling readers to practice and gain confidence.”
Studies back up Resch’s claims with a 2022 study published in the Early Childhood Education Journal finding that “canine-assisted reading intervention leads to bigger gains in reading performance than a traditional adult-led reading intervention.”
Similar programs have popped up in recent years across the US, and in Canda where a research team, led by doctoral student Camille Rousseau showed that children “spent significantly more time reading and showed more persistence when a dog—regardless of breed or age—was in the room as opposed to when they read without them,” Rousseau says. “In addition, the children reported feeling more interested and more competent.”
Resch claims the program also benefits the animals at the shelter as well. “While trained therapy dogs already have homes and companionship, animals in shelters can really benefit from human interaction. Reading to animals at a shelter can give them some much needed one-on-one time with a companion in a calm, non-stressful setting. It can also help skittish dogs and cats develop social skills that give them a better chance of being adopted.”
We “wanted to make reading fun again for our kids!” said Resch.
The “Tales for Tails” program is free and open to all elementary students in Randolph County every Tuesday from 3:15pm to 5 pm. Transportation to and from included for free.
You can find more information about the program on the Juvenile Day Reporting Center’s Facebook page, or the Randolph County’s Website and follow the link to the JDRC page.
About the Randolph County Juvenile Day Reporting Center
The Randolph County Juvenile Day Reporting Center is committed to providing a safe, structured and caring environment that promotes dignity, self-respect and self-discipline for our clients by providing critical services to youth ages 6-17 in Randolph County to enhance their growth today for a brighter future tomorrow.