Sent to the News-Sentinel (Indiana), August 24
Do children improve in reading when they read out-loud to dogs? ("Why a dog may be a young reader's best friend," August 21). A close look at the Tufts study reported in the News-Sentinel shows that the children didn't take a reading test: The test they took measured how many words they could pronounce correctly in one minute. This isn't reading. Reading means understanding what is on the page.
Even if we accept the test as legitimate, the improvement was tiny, about four words per minute, according to the chart included in the Tufts study, a gain that was not statistically significant.
It is alarming when a meaningless study like this gets so much attention when there is so much research showing what really works: Read-alouds for beginning readers, and lots of self-selected reading. Dogs aren't a young reader's best friend. Parents, teachers, librarians and libraries are.