Ben the Reading Dog, a.k.a Ben Crenshaw, is an 85-pound silver lab who often visits students at The Literacy & Learning Center for a bit of story time. During each visit, students gather around Ben and read a book of their choice aloud giving them a chance to work on their literacy skills.
“Reading aloud can sometimes be difficult for children, especially those who struggle overall with reading,” said TL&LC Executive Director Bonnie Potts. “Having a friendly face like Ben’s to listen patiently to them helps alleviate some of the anxiety associated with reading aloud and helps them grow as readers. We’ve seen a lot of this firsthand. The students are excited to see the dog and often volunteer to read aloud to him when otherwise they might not.”
Aubrie Potts, 11, said she loves when Ben stops by for a visit.
“It’s so fun when Ben visits because he’s a dog, and I love dogs,” said Aubrie. “He’s really fun and sits down in your lap and listens to you read.”
Miley Zagal, 9, said Ben is a such a good listener she started reading at home to her dog, Rocky.
“Rocky likes interesting adventure stories, especially about dogs,” said Zagal. “He always lays down on my bed and listens really well and I really like reading out loud to him.”
TL&LC Marketing Manager Jenni Edwards said it can be easier for children to read aloud to animals.
“It increases a student’s confidence who may have trouble reading out loud,” said Edwards. “Ben is an active listener, but not someone who will judge you. He is patient and good natured, and the kids love when he visits.”
Ariana Trejo, 6, said she really likes reading to Ben at TL&LC but doesn’t have a dog at home to read to, so she works with what she has.
“I read to my little sister, she sits there and listens,” said Trejo. “But I think it’s awesome because she learns new words.”
Ben is a licensed therapy dog and has been volunteering at TL&LC since 2017. He is named after two-time Masters Tournament champion Ben Crenshaw.
Photos courtesy of The Literacy & Learning Center
Article by Brian O’Shea
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