A literacy program is a big hit with children who are working to improve their reading skills and pairs them with an unusual audience.

The program is called Dog Tales and was introduced by the Literacy for Life Foundation.

Children aged eight to twelve are paired up with a canine friend that is trained to listen to them read aloud.

The foundation screens the dogs to make sure they have a gentle nature and are suitable for the program.

The program was first rolled out to area libraries and is now being used at Good Shepard School in Okotoks.

Children who have difficulty reading take part once a week in groups of three and twelve children are currently enrolled in the program at the school.

The kids say the dogs are good listeners.

“Usually when people are trying to listen they usually interrupt you and don’t listen anymore,” said Ted Tell, Grade 3 student.

“The kids love to read.  They love to read to a dog because that’s a non-judgmental listener who’s just going to participate in their reading. No one’s going to be correcting them, they just get to enjoy reading, “said teacher, Cheryl Kuemper.

For more information on Dog Tales, visit the Literacy for Life Foundation website.

(With files from Bill Marks)