ST. CLOUD -- Kids had the opportunity to practice their reading skills and spend some time with furry animals this weekend.

One Saturday per month during the school year, the St. Cloud Public Library hosts “Paws to Read.” The program allows kids to practice by reading out loud to an animal, usually a dog, bunny, or guinea pig.

Patron Services Librarian Connie Laing says the program has been around for a number of years and gives kids a chance to build their confidence.

It helps them to relax as they're reading, it reduces stress, and it helps them build confidence in reading when they're reading to an animal that is completely non-judgmental and won't correct them.

After taking a break for two years due to COVID, the event just returned to the library in March.

Sarah Mueller, WJON
Sarah Mueller, WJON
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Event Coordinator Corinne Carlson and her black lab Cora have been involved since 2013 after taking over from another woman who ran the program until retirement. She says in addition to building reading skills, the program helps introduce kids who may not have pets to animals and helps socialize the animals as well. She adds some kids even come back monthly.

We have some kids that come back every month and it's fun to see their reading skills grow and their confidence grow.

The program is also put on in partnership with the Tri-County Humane Society and is geared towards kids 4-12, but open to all ages.

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