“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — This is a tale and about a dog named Jazzy who can read any room she enters.

And a story about how she is helping kids, like 8-year-old Innocent Quiles, read.

Innocent reads pretty well for a 2nd grader now, but he didn’t always.

“At this point last year, he got a letter saying he wasn’t going to make it to the second grade,” says his mom, Yvette Rivera.

He didn’t want to go to school, because the other kids would make fun of him.

Now he’s reading with the rest of his classmates. And his favorite time is when he reads to Jazzy.

“She thinks I’m a good reader,” says Innocent. “And I think she’s a great dog.”

Once a week Jazzy, with her human Ellen Goldwyn, comes to PS 38 in Harlem and kids read to her.
It’s part of a program called READ… Reading Education Assistance Dogs.

“Dogs are good listeners,” says Nancy George Michalson, director of New York Therapy Animals. “They don’t react to mispronounced words, or care if English is their second language, or they’re not able to concentrate in a classroom setting. The dog is able to capture their attention.”

The program is in five low-income, low-performing schools and it’s been shown to work.

“I like reading to her because it makes her happy,” says Innocent. “And it make me happy also.”

It has made him successful, too says his mom.

“This year he got a letter that he’s moving up into the third grade and he was so excited. ‘I made it, I made it,’ he was cheering. I think it was because of Jazzy,” she says.

And he even reads at home. His favorite?

“The Cat in the Hat,” he told Sugerman.

Hope the reading dogs don’t mind.

Find more from the “Sweet Spot” here.