[Susan notes: Steve provides these Sources (not included in published letter).
Lane, H. B., & Zavada, S. D. W. (2013). When reading gets ruff: Canine-assisted reading programs. Reading Teacher 67, 87-95.
Paddock, C. 2010 Dogs helped kids improve reading fluency. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/186708.php
Smith, Corrione Serra 2008. An Analysis and Evaluation of Sit Stay Read: Is the Program Effective in Improving Student Engagement and Reading Outcomes? Doctoral dissertation, National Louis University.
Smith, M. and Meehan, C. Canine buddies help youth develop reading skills. No date. http://ucanr.edu/delivers/?impact=800&delivers=1]
Published in American Libraries
I would like to suggest that reading aloud to dogs ("Dog Therapy," November/December, 2014), does not help children improve their reading ability directly, but it may have positive indirect benefits.
Research on reading consistently supports one conclusion: Children improve their reading ability by reading books that are comprehensible and interesting, when they understand and are interested in what is on the page.
There is no scientific evidence that children improve by reading aloud to dogs (or to humans). Reading aloud is rarely reading for meaning. Only reading for meaning, understanding the message on the page, promotes literacy development.
I suggest that reading to dogs helps young readers indirectly: As the article states in the first sentence, reading to animals may help children "get comfortable" with reading. The few studies done so far support this: they show that children who read to dogs regularly improve in "fluency," that is, reading speed. This is not the same as improving in the ability to understand texts. Increased comfort with reading, and associating reading with pleasure, however, could lead to more interest in books and more reading for meaning, which in turn means more literacy development.
Stephen Krashen, USC Professor Emeritus