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'Paws to Read' program provides a furry reading partner

'Paws to Read' program helps kids with reading skills. (NTV News)

A longstanding partnership between CHI Health Good Samaritan Hospital and the Kearney Public Library continues its efforts of encouraging kids to read, in front of a rather unusual audience.

Kids of all ages picked up a book and read to animal-assisted therapy dogs at the Kearney Public Library on Saturday. It's the Paws to Read program, which gives kids a non judgmental listener.

Both organizers and participants say this not only helps them gain confidence in their reading, but also in themselves by building their social skills along the way.

"What we want is that connection between kids and books and encourage reading," said Animal Assisted Therapy Coordinator Kim Williams. "And a lot of different studies have shown that when a kid reads to a dog they don't feel judgement."

"I recognize that I was in the same spot those kids were at one time too," said longtime participant Siarah Willenberg. "And that the dogs are helping them like they did me so it gives me a really good feeling inside that they're getting the same as what I got."

The Paws to Read program is offered at the Kearney Public Library once a month.

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