Six-year-old Ella Miller sits legs crossed in a purple tutu on colorfully striped carpeting at the Orangevale Library. She methodically sounds out words while reading aloud to a Labrador mix named Kori, who possesses extraordinary listening powers. With her index finger tracking the words, she pauses to give Kori a welcomed pat on the head. Doing his best to blend into the background, Kori’s owner, Don Jarrell, waits patiently to pass out dog treats at the end of the session.
Jarrell and Kori come to the Orangevale Library twice a week as part of the Sacramento Public Library’s “Read to a Dog” program, currently offered at 10 branches and supported by volunteers.
“Reading to a trained therapy dog can help reluctant and developing readers because of their warm, neutral, non-judgmental presence,” said Christie Hamm, manager of youth and literacy services at the Sacramento Public Library. “The dog doesn’t correct pronunciation or care if you read too slowly.”
Jarrell says he loves to watch the interaction between Kori and the kids. “She’s got it down pat,” he says. “I think she loves it.”
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PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLOG: Additional photographs and story: blogs.sacbee.com/exposures.