Sit, Stay, Read

November 11, 2007 • Posted in Beth Finke, book tour, Hanni, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized by

Sit Stay Read LogoBook coverBarnes & Noble reading.  That’s me at the podium!The presentation went well.Hanni surrounded by a throng of adoring fans.Hey, I have some fans too…It’s official. Hanni and I are dogblog maivens. Another dogblogger blogged about us today.
Here’s the skinny: A woman named Mary Ellen was at the presentation Hanni and I gave earlier today at the Old Orchard Barnes & Noble in Skokie, Illinois.
Turns out Mary Ellen is the Executive Director and co-founder of “Sit Stay Read! Inc.” SIT STAY READ is a Chicago-based volunteer literacy organization that brings dogs and kids together to make reading fun. Mary Ellen’s dog Shandy is one of Chicago’s first Sit Stay Read dogs, and they dogblog about their experiences on the Shandy at Work dogblog.
The Sit Stay Read web site explains the program like this: “Reading aloud is a critical component of early childhood literacy. Children who have difficulty reading have an especially hard time reading aloud in front of peers and adults. SIT STAY READ programs allow children to read aloud to specially trained therapy dogs. The dogs increase confidence and generate excitement.”
After our presentation this afternoon, Mary Ellen asked if Hanni and I might want to be Guest Readers/Listeners at a Sit Stay Read school program in Chicagoland sometime. “Our kids would be thrilled to hear you,” Mary Ellen said. They’ve had opera singers, firefighters, poets and other professionals as guests. “You and Hanni would be a wonderful addition.”
Hanni and I would love to give this a try. It was great to meet Mary Ellen at the bookstore today, and we look forward to meeting Shandy in the future. In the meantime, we’ll keep track of them by reading their dogblog.

marilee On November 11, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Very interesting. There was recently an article in our local paper about a Guidance Counselor at a Middle School who has a Companion Canine -not because she has a disability, but because she believes the dog listens to students or has a sense for what they are feeling. The students open up to the dog-and then eventually to people. The article also mentioned the dogs helping young readers to read orally, much like Mary Ellen’s dog Shandy. Great program. I will check out her blog.

bethfinke On November 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm

You know, I’ve been hearing more and more about this “Reading to Dogs” idea all over the country. Early on, when my book was still in the planning stage, someone from the Seattle area contacted Blue Marlin Publications to see if Hanni and I might be interested in going out there to visit their reading program. Your note reminds me – I should look into that again!

Linda On November 14, 2007 at 2:14 am

Hi Beth,
I wrote about a similar program being piloted at Oak Park’s Dole library in 2004 for the Wednesday Journal. The dogs and volunteers were affiliated with a animal-assisted therapy group in Oak Park called Paws 4 Patients. The program itself was called R.E.A.D.–Reading Education Assistance Dogs–started by a Utah group called Intermountain Therapy Dogs! That last group certifies teams for R.E.A.D…anyway not sure if that’s relevant to your book but I do think it’s a great concept.

bethfinke On November 14, 2007 at 3:02 am

Linda, this is *definitely* relevant to my book — thanks for the info. I’m going to look into this READ program.
PS: Do you know anything about a childrens bookstore in Oak Park called, hmmm, I think it was the “Magic Tree”? A friend from Oak Park emailed me today with information about that store, maybe Hanni and I can go there, I could read the Braille version of Safe & Sound to the kids?
Or maybe the kids could read the print Hanni!

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