Students read to four-legged friends

The dogs put their paws on the books and listened as students at Norwood's Coakley Middle School read to them. The three therapy dogs —Addie, a Shetland sheepdog; Bandit, a shih tzu; and Dylan, a black Labrador — were a big hit with the 68 sixth, seventh and eighth graders who had the chance to read to the dogs late last month, reading specialist Donna MacTavish said. "The smiles were contagious," she said in a phone interview. MacTavish, who with colleague Diane Lockwood organized the visit, said research has shown that children increase their reading literacy and comprehension when they read to dogs, which do not judge how well or quickly the children read. The program was held as part of national Read Across America week, and the dogs came from the nonprofit organization Dog BONES (Dogs Building Opportunities for Nurturing and Emotional Support).