Dogs' new trick: Help kids read

News From California on Sal, Sal isn't a librarian or even a preschool buddy. He's a 2-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix with a very important job.

The Orangevale Library and Orangevale Rotary Club have joined forces to bring local youngsters a nationwide program that aims to improve children's reading skills and confidence by using trained service dogs.

According to library officials, studies show that children who are afraid to read aloud to an adult will enjoy reading to a friendly, nonjudgmental animal. Intermountain Therapy Animals -- which launched the reading program five years ago in Salt Lake City -- found the act can relax children, boost their self-confidence and ultimately improve their reading scores.

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Go Dog Go

This is an interesting idea. Metro Atlanta's DeKalb County Library just started this up, with a dog named Grant (named, no doubt, after his means of support). Maybe there are kids whom this will help. Of course, it's not much use to the kids who are allergic to -- or simply afraid of -- dogs. For them, perhaps a friendly, non-judgmental snake would be in order.

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