Gus the R.E.A.D. Dog improves student's literacy skills

(FOX San Antonio)

SAN ANTONIO - A golden retriever is improving student's literacy skills in a simple way.

Gus the R.E.A.D. dog is helping kids improve their reading abilities by sticking his nose in a book.

This dog does more than play fetch or even hide behind a bush.

For Bernadette Barnes this dog is special.

That's because this dog Gus is a R.E.A.D dog.

"I go to their classrooms I pick up the students we have a specific room that we go into they bring books that are appropriate to their level and they read to him," said Barnes.

Gus is a part of the "Reading Education Assistance Dogs" Program.

A program that helps improve children's reading and communication skills.

"These teachers have identified them as low level readers. These are kids that have had tutors one of them even was retained for a grade and they just really struggle," said Barnes.

Struggle in all areas of literacy.

"They have a very difficult time comprehending what they are reading," said Barnes.

But that's when Gus steps in--simply providing reading assistance by listening and creating a comfort level with students.

They feel safe with him and they feel like there's no pressure, like they might feel in the classroom or they might feel when reading out loud with other kids. It's just him and them," said Barnes.

Gus is currently working with students from Jackson Keller elementary.

"Most of them come from a lower socioeconomic background," said Barnes.

And so far Barnes says the response has been great.

She says students are learning to love reading and some are showing an increase in their reading levels.

"Parents response is wonderful they have to give permission in order for Gus to read with the kids and they have said their kids come home they talk about Gus and it has just been a positive experience," said Barnes.

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