Family pets may not have a lot to say, but they make great listeners. Children are typically less stressed when reading aloud knowing their four-legged audience is patient and nonjudgmental.

If your child is hesitant to read aloud to you or peers, try scheduling a reading session with the family dog, cat or even goldfish. Canine reading programs are popping up in libraries all around the country, and the effectiveness of these initiatives is evident.

A study by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found that over the course of a 10-week period, children who participated in a canine reading program improved their literacy skills by 12 percent.

The next time you're at the local library, keep an eye out for a four-legged friend. When it comes to literacy, man's best friend may just turn out to be your child's best pal.

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