Portland, Oregon loves books, children, and animals… so why not combine the love for all three into one tremendous educational tool? This must be the question the folks at the Bethany Branch of the Cedar Mill Library asked themselves before they came up with the truly unique program: “Read to the Dogs.”
Bethany is a quaint neighborhood in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, Oregon and is home to corporate giants Intel and Nike. The Washington County system of libraries reflects the affluence and ingenuity of the neighborhood.
I remember as a kid, libraries were dank and dark. There were a bunch of musty old books, some old computers, and a matronly librarian who was always quick to press her knobby finger to her lips and spit “shh” at me. Kids were an unwelcome annoyance. Well not anymore. The libraries in the Portland/metropolitan area not only cater to kids, they have all the tools and materials needed to truly help kids learn and thrive. New books, coffee shops, DVD’s, fast computers, friendly staff, and sections and programs catered specifically for children, represent this new generation of library. Read to the Dogs is a part of this new generation.
My wife and I have raised our children to not only love reading, but to also love animals. Animals, especially dogs, are highly intelligent—much more than we often give them credit for—and they are the perfect reading companions for children. When I signed up my son for program, his excitement could not be contained.
Entering this quiet, suburban library nestled amongst proud trees and lush greenery, it is clear that education and children matter in the Portland/metropolitan area. My son ran to the kid’s section and picked out a book, Roald Dahl’s The BFG. It was one of my favorites as a kid.
“This one, daddy!” He said, beaming. “Now, where’s my dog?” We were directed to the location and greeted by a ball of delightful slobber and fur— a St. Bernard named Tiny. My son squealed and Tiny slathered his face with kisses in a manner only a dog can do.
The two nestled into the corner and the words poured from my son with an eloquence I’d never heard before. And the journey began. As my son patted Tiny on his big noggin’, Tiny rested peacefully and quietly. His inquisitive eyes took him on the journey to a land of giants along with my son. I’d never heard him read so well. I’d never seen him so content. I marveled at the brilliance of this reading program and thanked the staff for providing my son with the opportunity.
Portland, Oregon is a city that cares about kids and the Bethany Branch of the Cedar Mill Library makes it easy for kids to fall in love with learning. Visit the library Monday through Friday from 10am-8pm, Saturdays from 10am-5pm, and Sundays from 12pm-5pm… and be sure to take advantage of this tremendous program! Your child—and a lucky dog—will thank you.