KENILWORTH, NJ – Students at Harding Elementary School had the opportunity to practice their literacy skills with a special guest, Valor the therapy dog.  Valor and his owner, Elizabeth Smith, are members of Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc.  The duo completed countless hours of training and testing to be registered and insured through the nonprofit organization.  As a certified therapy dog team, Valor and Elizabeth can offer their services, free of charge, to hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.

Tales for Tails was developed as a reading incentive program to encourage Harding students to read for pleasure, and they were challenged to read every day over winter break.  The students and their parents completed a reading log and returned it to school.  All logs were entered into a drawing to win a visit from Valor.  Miss Shannon Simon, a student in Mrs. Parente’s class, was the winner for her class.

“Students were excited when they found out our class won the visit.  Each child had a chance to read their own book to Valor at the school library,” said Kristine Parente, Kindergarten teacher. 

“Studies find that animal assisted learning has many benefits.  It is a great motivator for children.  The use of animals has also been shown to reduce stress and have a calming effect on students,” said Dr. Tabitha Bradley, Supervisor of Curriculum.  As she looks towards expanding the program, she hopes to have more doggy visits so that she can expose reluctant readers to the benefits of reading to dogs."