Reading Ambassador Dogs in Libraries

Today’s post comes to us from beloved author of over 200 books, including the classic children’s book, “There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake“, Ms. Hazel Edwards OAM. She gives us insight into a wonderful program from Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty library, which was the brainchild of librarian Marlies Irvine-Tammes. We love what they are doing!

Author Hazel Edwards, grandson Henry and one of the Reading Ambassador Dogs, sharing a book at Yarra Plenty Libraries. Image courtesy of Photographer Kevin Howlett

In Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty library, I was a Reading Ambassador. And so was the dog.

I’m not a ‘dog person’ but I’m keen on any techniques which encourage young people, including my grandson, to read.

AND I was won over by the well trained dogs during the photo shoot for the ‘Doggy Tales’ program. Each of these dogs, volunteered by their owners who had all the necessary legal checks, attended one of the Yarra Plenty Regional libraries, weekly, after school, so children could read to them. (There was a tiny treat between the pages for the dog).

The children discussed which book titles the dogs would like best.  Bones?.

This photo shoot was the first time the dogs had all been together, as usually they attended the library individually, with their owner.

Photographer Kevin Howlett had to get shots of each dog individually, then in the group.

The brainchild of librarian Marlies Irvine-Tammes, the Doggy Tales program is a way of enticing children who are having problems with their reading, to acquire an attentive audience.  The dog appears to be listening.

The dog- owners were so proud of their charges.  Many were formerly trained as therapy dogs, and had been carefully chosen to work with children.  All breeds, many big, but the really small dog was the favourite.

Hazel Edwards recently recorded the audio of “Hijabi Girl” for “Vision Australia’s Library for Blind Students”

One of the older girls who was wearing a hijab read our ‘Hijabi Girl’ book to the Reading Ambassador Dog.  That was a special moment.

‘Do dogs have a religion?’ asked one child.

‘Can they read in languages other than English?’

The joy is that the children are then inclined to read to their pets at home too.  Or experiment with other ways of reading.

For several months, my grandson Henry and I have been reading nightly on Facetime since the librarian showed me how to set it up on my Ipad.  The challenge is to have two copies of the same book, or at least angle the sole copy towards the camera.  But my digital skills on Facetime have improved and so has his reading.

Thanks to the librarians!

Further information to contact this program is below:

Reading Coordinator Marlies Irvine-Tammes, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Diamond Valley Library, Civic Drive, Greensborough 3088

email:, website:

And thank you Ms. Edwards for sharing this exciting initiative. We would love to hear what you think about it. Please share your comments via our FacebookTwitter or our LinkedIn pages.

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