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Teacher Speaks Out About “Tales To Tails” Program

Children improve scores by reading to stuffed animals and real dog.

A teacher with the Clark County School District sent the following testimony about Heaven Can Wait’s Tales to Tails program.  This child literacy program that has students reading to specially trained dogs was developed several years ago.  It has achieved measurable success to improve the reading scores of all the children who have participated.  

I am the Literacy Specialist at the Adelson Educational Campus and we were so excited to have the “Tales to Tails” program from Heaven Can Wait Animal Society at our school. First and Second graders participated in a 6 week program and grow an average of 80 points in their testing scores, with each student in the program moving at least one level higher in reading. The students were excited about reading and came to school each Monday ready to read to the dogs.

The program provided a leveled book for each student to practice each week and a “stuffed animal” dog that each student adopted. The dog’s handler would review any key words and help the students with the new vocabulary. The students would go home and practice reading to their “stuffed animal” dog in preparation of reading to the therapy dog on Monday.

Each week, one of the handlers would read a story or teach a lesson to the entire group educating them on key elements of dog ownership. After the short lesson, each group would meet with their dog and read their stories.

In a calm state, the dogs would listen to each child read their book. The handlers asked the students comprehension questions according to higher level thinking skills. After the students finished reading, the handler would introduce next week’s book and discuss any difficult words or vocabulary.

Beyond the obvious increases in reading ability, some of the other benefits of this program that we witnessed were students who ordinarily did not like to read were all of a sudden excited about reading, a student who was afraid of big dogs was loving and petting the 110 lb. Rottweiler at the end of the program, and students whose confidence was shaken with reading, suddenly took on new reading challenges with confidence. Here is what one of the parents of a child in this program said:

My son Shane is new to the Adelson School this year. As a new first grader, he was shy and nervous about his reading skills, especially having to read in front of classmates and teachers.

 Shane is a huge animal lover and having the opportunity to be a part of the Tales to Tails program allowed him to read in a soothing, non-judgmental environment to a wonderful selection of dogs. He was able to test his reading skills and feel more comfortable and confident. I am so happy to say that I would pick him up from school on Monday afternoons always with a huge confident smile on his face.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful program.

 Jennifer Graff – Mother to Shane Lewis – First Grader

We would like to thank Heaven Can Wait Animal Society for this incredible opportunity to challenge and inspire our students to read.

Laura Bruni – Literary Specialist – Adelson Educational Campus


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