Patient pup helps local students improve reading skills

INDIANAPOLIS - Common animals found in the classroom to enhance learning may include fish, hamsters and even gerbils -- but one local program helping kids improve their reading skills is doggone special.

Kindergarten students at New Palestine Elementary School were learning to read with the help of a big, fluffy and patient dog on Monday.

Bentley, a 4-year-old Great Pyrenees, loves to listen.

"He doesn't interrupt us so we keep reading the whole time," one student said.

Bentley and his owner, Nickie Scott, are part of a program called Woofs and Books

They travel to different schools to help students from kindergarten through third grade feel more comfortable with reading

"They read to him when they might not read to another child or adult," teacher Cheryl Rose said. "They just don't feel the pressure to not make mistakes and be perfect in front of Bentley. He never comments on their reading, he is just a good listener."

"I see improvement in reading skills, improvement in behavior and other areas of the classroom too," Scott said.

The tolerant pooch loves the attention, and will even lend a paw to help turn the page.

"I think it's invaluable. Any way we can plant the seed of reading is invaluable. And I think Bentley gives the kids a sense of confidence," Principal Mark Kern said. 

Even though schools are taking a break for the summer, you can still read to Bentley at a couple of central Indiana libraries. Click here for more information --

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