MOOMIN is quite fond of the beach, but what the English bull terrier really loves is being read to by Phoenix Primary School kids.
The South Fremantle pooch is part of the Story Dog program, which visits schools and encourages children to read for fun.
“We don’t go to teach the children; it’s to make the reading experience enjoyable,” says Moomin’s Lisa Hill.
Saga Bookshop in South Fremantle sponsors Moomin’s school visits and provides books for the kids to read to him.
“Things like this can really help kids,” says Saga Bookshop owner Liz Foss, who is hosting a free Story Dog afternoon at her shop on Saturday March 30.
As well as reading, there’ll be afternoon tea and games including pin the tail on Moomin, with a life sized drawing of the bull terrier by local artist Wendy Binks.
Story Dogs was started by a couple of New South Wales mums who wanted to encourage their kids to read.
At first their local school was skeptical but the improvement in the children’s confidence and reading ability won everyone over.
“At the end of term the principal was raving, the parents were raving and the children were raving,” Story Dog coordinator Linda Williams says.
The dogs, or their people, don’t criticise or correct the children, the Alfred Cove local says.
“It’s about giving the children confidence to read out loud, without people correcting them.
“We talk through the dog. If there’s a mistake we say lets go back and look at that.”
If the dog nods off it becomes a “snorey dog”, rather than a story dog.
“We tell the child they have done such a beautiful job the dog has fallen asleep,” Mrs Williams says.
There’s a waiting list of schools keen to join the program, so Story Dogs is always looking for volunteers.
“But what we really need are coordinators,” she says.
To sign up your dog go to storydogs.org.au or email Linda at email@example.com
Call Saga Bookshop on 6363 5063 to let them know you’re attending the Moomin book reading, Saturday March 30, 2pm.
by JENNY D’ANGER