Long Island nonprofit Bideawee helps kids gain confidence by reading to dogs

LEVITTOWN, New York -- When it comes to reading, it isn't always the easiest subject for kids to pick up on. Often they feel pressured, embarrassed and their confidence is at an all-time low.

However, Bideawee, a no-kill pet welfare organization, has helped kids look forward to reading by having their audience be non-judgmental pet-therapy dogs.

"Dogs don't judge you, so it's easier to read and if you make a mistake you don't feel that embarrassed around a dog," said student Michaela Zimmermann. "It just makes you feel less stressed if you're reading in front of an entire class or reading group."

Once a month the therapy dogs along with their owners who are trained at Bideawee, visit Northside Elementary school in Levittown, Long Island to have group reading sessions with the kids.

"The reading to dogs program itself is wonderful you get to see that relationship between the kids and animals," said marketing director Amy Brostoff. "It gives them the confidence they need to continue their reading and builds a relationship with them and the pet."

In all the schools where Bideawee visits, the volunteers will work with the teachers to ensure that the program enhances what the teacher's goals are for their students.

"It's much more comfortable to read in front of a dog than it is to a class," said student Christopher Ruggia. "That's what helps me read more fluently when I do read in front of my class."

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