A Tribute to the R.E.A.D. Dogs Program

A delightful bronze bench – featuring a little girl and a dog so cute they beckon kids to sit and enjoy a good book with them – was unveiled at Wednesday, April 18 in the Kids Library.

Eight famous (at least around the library) Reading Education Assistance Dogs, including Waverly, the Labrador-mix who was the model for the sculpture, were in attendance. R.E.A.D. dogs are registered therapy animals who volunteer at the library with their owners on Sunday afternoons (next one is May 6 at 2pm). The bench pays tribute to this program aimed at helping kids gain confidence in their reading skills.

“The library’s been encouraging literacy with the R.E.A.D. dogs program since 2007. We know it’s not always feasible to get to the library for the program, so this bench showcases the sharing of stories by putting kids in the moment. That’s the next best thing to reading to the actual therapy dogs,” said LeAnn Petrie, Youth Services supervisor.

“The child in the sculpture is a beginning reader and her face expresses the wonderment that young children have when sharing a story with a dog, their best friend who loyally listens to all of their stories,” said Steve Page, The Library Foundation Chair.

The bronze work was completed by artists at the Degginger Foundry and funded through a gift to The Library Foundation by Dr. Bob and Frankie Parman, of Topeka.  Dr. Parman is a Foundation trustee and his wife, Frankie, volunteers for The Library Foundation. Planning for the sculpture started in early 2011.

Customers can expect many more exciting developments in the Kids Library in the coming months. To make a gift to help transform the Kids Library into a place for learning and exploration, contact The Library Foundation at 785-580-4498.

The Library Foundation’s purpose is to help secure resources that support the collections, programs, services, technology and physical facilities of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. The Foundation pursues this purpose by seeking philanthropic support, by providing conscientious stewardship of the assets in its care, by encouraging appropriate community partnerships, and by advocating on behalf of the library’s mission in our community.

A public relations professional, editor and writer, Lisa shares the library story in her blog posts, in the bimonthly Library News, and media interviews. A self-described social media and news nut, Lisa harnesses that passion to raise awareness and understanding of the library's vital role in this community.

  • Luanne

    The R.E.A.D. program goes beyond helping children with their reading. They help children who are normally afraid of dogs to feel comfortable around them. The bench is INDEED a great tribute to this program!

  • Lissa

    I’ll second Luanne’s comment. My 19 month old was hesitant when he first saw the new statue but when he saw the detailed animals that appear on the backs of each seat, he was intrigued!