Our Greyt Readers Program!
American Greyhound volunteers spend time at their local libraries conducting our “Greyt Readers” programs in six different locations in Indiana and Illinois. In the Greyt Readers program, our volunteers and one of their dogs spend a few hours every couple of weeks at the libraries where children spend time with, and read to the dogs. This program has been wildly popular, and time slots for the kids to read to the dogs are often booked weeks in advance, and there is always a group of kids waiting to pet the dogs when they get to the library. Kids from all different reading levels participate in the program, including some that have difficulties with reading, or who are not comfortable reading in front of adults, but have no issues with reading to the dogs.
We see a mixture of kids who return every week, as well as those that are new to the program. The children are encouraged to bring along their favorite books, which most of them do, but if they don’t have a book with them, the library has a selection appropriate for all age ranges for them to read. The dogs also like being with the kids, and will often lay their heads in their laps while they are reading, getting pets and ear scratches.
It’s not only the kids who read to the dogs that are affected by the program. The American Greyhound volunteers who run Greyt Readers with their dogs get a lot out of it too. There is something special and touching to watch a child who may be hesitant reading to an adult, not think twice about reading to the dogs. A lot of the kids like to pet or touch the dogs while reading to them, and they also make sure to show the pictures to the dog as they go through their story. Each child gets a name tag with their name and the dog they read to. Many of the kids who regularly attend keep the name tags as souvenirs and know how many times they have read to each dog.
Many times a child will come in the room and be afraid to approach or touch the dogs, but by the time they are done reading to them, they are petting and talking to them. We hear stories from the parent’s all the time about how much their children love the program and how it affects them. One parent brought his two children to the program, both of which had reading difficulties and were also afraid of dogs, but seemed to warm up to them after a while. They all came back the following week, and the parents told us that “their kids were so excited about reading to the dogs, they talked about it constantly, and in addition to that, they they both practiced reading at home so they could come back and do a better job for the dogs next time.”
Recently, a woman whose daughter participates in the Greyt Readers program at the Tinley Park library wrote a letter to the library relating their experience with our Greyt Readers program that is helping her daughter overcome a fear of dogs. The library was so touched by the story that they featured it on the back of their 2019 Winter Newsletter. The Mom wrote:
“My daughter has always loved dogs—that all changed one day last year when our neighbor’s dog got loose and bit my daughter twice. Even since that day, anytime we come across a dog, my daughter gets really scared. We have been working with her on getting back to that love she has for dogs. When we heard about the ‘Greyt Readers’ at the library, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get her some exposure in a safe environment to a bigger dog that we knew would be gentle with her. These greyhounds were so amazing with my daughter—she left the library talking about how much she enjoyed the dogs. It was like she was before the dog attacked her, you could see the excitement in her eyes, and it brought back some of the confidence she used to have around dogs.”
—K.K. Library Patron
We would like to thank all the American Greyhound volunteers who take the time to participate in this wonderful program, as well as the libraries and staff that host us.