Families: Learning Corner: Listen, Spot

A therapy dog can be a shy young reader's best friend

Sprawled on the floor, Daisy, a dark-eyed 7-year-old, reads aloud: "Chas smiled proudly. 'This is your lucky day,' he said.'" Her audience of one yawns and leans against Daisy's leg; Daisy reaches down to scratch the listener's ear. Mojo, a black Labrador retriever, sighs and settles in. It's the weekly meeting of the America Reads program in Santa Monica, Calif., which uses dogs to encourage kids to explore the world of books. After the session, Daisy tells a visitor that she likes reading to dogs because "they just sit and listen. They're calm."

Animal-assisted therapy, in which specially trained animals visit...

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