Okehampton Library is running new weekly sessions allowing youngsters to read to a dog as a strategy to help boost their confidence with literacy.

Primarily aimed at children of all ages (including teenagers) struggling with reading, the library has set up ‘Read to Rafa’ sessions every Monday from 3.45 to 4.45pm, in which they can read to a local friendly black labrador (Rafa), who has been assessed by and is registered with Pets as Therapy (PAT).

The sessions are also designed to further encourage youngsters to read.

The library has stressed that all children can benefit from this activity and are welcome, with particular benefit to those children who find reading challenging, are worried about reading aloud in front of others or lack self-confidence and self esteem with literacy.

Each reading session lasts up to 15 minutes and must be booked in advance.

Carole Cornwall, library supervisor at Okehampton Library said: “The sessions are certainly picking up and becoming very popular, as is Rafa! We’ve had mostly four to ten year olds participating so far but we’re encouraging young adults too. It’s building their confidence with both reading and dogs. We were originally approached by a volunteer who presented us with this opportunity — it’s one that has been offered in some other Devon libraries too. We hope to continue running the sessions every Monday as long as Rafa is available.”

To book a session, call 01837 52805 or email [email protected]