Children who struggle with reading often have a tougher time at home and at school, but the Palmdale Library is fighting back. Each month, the library holds a unique reading program that’s not so much about what the children are reading, but who they’re reading to.
Nathaniel Terrell loves to read. His mom says he was basically born with a book in his hand.
"Some kids had binkees or pacifiers or blankeees. His was always a book, and it still is," said his mother Patricia Margosian Terrell.
But Nathaniel, who was reading a Pokemon book, isn’t as comfortable reading to others, that is, unless you’re a dog. Children at the Palmdale Library can take part in a free monthly program called "Books and Barks" that uses therapy dogs to encourage kids to read aloud - without judgement or criticism.
"The dogs don’t really care whether how well they read, how fast they read, and it helps the kids develop confidence," said A.J. Listman.
She and her dog, Biggs, are with a group of volunteers called Pet Pals, part of the High Desert Obedience Club.
"If a kid is stumbling over a word, they’ll ask and we’ll help them," said Listman.
In another part of the room, you could almost feel the energy emanating from Isabella Castruita, who was at the event with her twin sister.
"We’re not horses. We’re dogs!" she read aloud from a book.
The stories are usually dog themed and the canines listen attentively to their young readers.
"He didn’t bark or anything," said Castruita.
As the four-legged friends listened nearby, library associate Shay Hawkin watched the group. She's been coordinating the event for the past six years.
"It’s easier to just [say] ‘I don’t like to read,’ because then you don’t have to be seen struggling and having trouble reading," said Hawkin.
For some kids, even a little confidence boost could change their entire outlook on reading.
"There’s nothing better," Hawkin said.
It's all in an effort to try and turn the page on illiteracy.