250 New Books for Story Dogs
The Story Dogs Mission is to make reading fun for children, so they become confident lifelong readers. No child should be left behind in literacy.
Formed in 2009 in northern NSW, Story Dogs has expanded to now be operating in six Australian states, partnering with 224 schools, with 374 volunteer Dog Teams helping over 1880 children every week.
Their purpose is to help primary school children (aged 7 – 10) learn to read. They partner with the classroom teacher to provide a non-judgemental, relaxed, fun reading space. Children can go at their own pace, make mistakes as the dog doesn’t mind and have fun reading.
There are currently 13 schools in the SA Story Dogs programme, which helps over 80 South Australian children find the joy of reading through quality, fun, engaging stories with their best mate, a dog.
UCF received an application to fund 250 quality, new children’s books into the South Australian Story Dogs programme.
Quality children’s books are a cornerstone to the delivery of the programme. In order to make reading fun and non-judgemental Story Dogs use an apprenticeship approach to learning to read. The key to this approach is using specially selected children’s picture books. These books are chosen for a variety of reasons, these being:
- Rhyming, very simple confidence builder
- Repetitive language but fun
- Great narrative arc: good beginning, middle and end
- Evocative: tugs at heartstrings
- Dog story: involves dogs or is about dogs.
Story Dogs do not use school readers as these are “boring, non interactive and non fun”! Some of the preferred authors in use are Pamela Allen, Mem Fox, Arron Babley, Julia Donaldson, Margaret Wild and Dr Seuss.
The books stay with the programme, being loaned to Story Dogs volunteers and returned when a volunteer leaves.
Currently there are 16 volunteer dogs teams helping over 80 disadvantaged children learn to read. Each Dog Team (handler and dog) can help approx. 6 children every year learn to read. The Dog Teams visit the school on a weekly basis and see the same children one-on-one for 20mins. These reading sessions involve the children having a choice of book from a selection the volunteer brings, that Story Dogs provides. Having the students choose the book is very important, sending the message that, their choice is important and that this activity is for them. Thus it is vital for our volunteers to have fun, engaging, quality children’s books.
The books will be covered, a sticker put on the back identifying that it was purchased with funds from the Universal Charitable Fund and that it is a Story Dogs book. Books will then be distributed among existing and new volunteer Dog Teams who help disadvantaged children in Mount Gambier, Whyalla and Adelaide regions of South Australia.
UCF directors were pleased to approve $2,000 to replenish and increase the Story Dogs library in SA.