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Books with Beane, Encouraging A Lifelong Love of Reading

Six-year-old Aolani Clayton reads to Beane, a three-year-old Golden Retriever at the Milford Town Library on February 20 as part of the "Books with Beane" program.

Man's best friend has also become man's best listener at the Milford Town Library with the introduction of the new "Books with Beane" program.

Children in grades 1-3 have been signing up to read out-loud to Beane, a three-year-old Golden Retriever who has been a special guest at the library a number of times since December. Over 40 kids have already had the opportunity to read to Beane, practicing their oral reading skills while spending time with a "non-judgmental" furry friend.

Beane has been trained though the non-profit program Dog B.O.N.E.S. (Dogs Building Opportunities for Nurturing and Emotional Support). The Dog B.O.N.E.S. program is a completely volunteer based organization whose purpose is to provide trained therapy dogs to schools, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers for a variety of support.

Beane, who lives with his owner Lianne Larson, travels with his handler Darlene Crawford to different locations throughout Massachusetts to give people – both young and old – the chance to spend time with a dog who was trained to be an affectionate and calming presence.

After Beane completed his Reading Companion Certification, Crawford said that she began practicing with Beane on his listening skills with her own grandchildren, and quickly saw that Beane was a natural. "He was fantastic with the kids," she said.

Having a connection to the Milford Town Library, Crawford starting bringing Beane to the library for students in Milford to have the opportunity to read to Beane as well.

"It's a great way to help kids become better readers and to also help them love the whole reading-out-loud experience," said Crawford of the new "Books with Beane" program.

Beane was at the library again on Saturday, February 20, where he met a few new friends including six-year-old Aolani Clayton, who was reading to Beane for the first time.

"I love dogs," said Aolani while lamenting that her mom wouldn't let her have one at home. Aolani said she loved to read as well which was why she signed up to read to Beane at the library that morning. Aolani chose Dr. Seuss' One Fish Two Fish to read to Beane "because it is so funny," she said.

Crawford stressed that kids should know that the whole experience of reading to Beane is stress-free, and even struggling readers would find enjoyment in spending time with the "non-judgmental," four-legged listener. "I tell the kids that they shouldn't worry if they get the words wrong. No one is going to correct them and Beane won't even know!" she laughed.

A retired English teacher, Crawford said understands the importance of getting kids hooked on reading at an early age. "Anything that encourages students to become life-long readers is wonderful," she said.

To be able to take part in the "Books with Beane" program, families of children in grades 1-3 must sign up for a 15-minute session with the Library by stopping by in person or by calling the Youth Services Department at 508-473-2145, ext 216. Registration is required.


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