Libraries offer more than reading material
by Anne Marie Fuller
Aug 15, 2014 | 2451 views | 4 4 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After school programs
Mountain House residents Elizabeth Varghese, 10, Ashley Varghese, 8, and Sharon Varghese 12, read to therapy dog Nico, a 14-month old Bernese Mountain Dog, as part of the Paws 4 Friends reading program that is offered at the Mountain House and Tracy brach libraries. The program is offered free to the public and encourages children to read without fear of being criticized or corrected. Anne Marie Fuller/For the Tracy Press
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Your public library isn’t just a place to check out books. There is a plethora of free activities to keep kids engaged after school hours and during the weekends. Kids can take part in free book clubs, story time, homework help groups, crafts, game nights and even a chess club.

Starting in September, the Tracy Branch Library will offer a homework help group for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The free group will meet from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.

“The library is a multi-fancied place,” Tracy Branch Librarian Merrilee Chapman said. “We have free computer access, activities and programs all year long. The library is also a place to hang out with your friends. Not only are there books on the shelves, but you can download e-books for free. We have lots of great programs here, including a reading program with therapy dogs called Paws 4 Friends — which kids can read to dogs here at the library.”

Paws 4 Friends meets on different weekends at the Tracy, Mountain House and Manteca branch libraries.

“I like this reading club,” Ashley Varghese, 8, of Mountain House said. “I feel excited and it really helps to read to the dogs.”

Typically, two or three dogs are at the library each time and can see anywhere from six to 30 kids. Paws 4 Friends has around 40 team members. Children who participate are encouraged to grab a book and read to a dog.

“This reading program was started about three years ago, and all the dogs in the group are registered therapy dogs,” Dan Schack, founding member of Paws 4 Friends, said. “It’s a great program that the kids and their parents get so much out of. Sometimes when kids have a reading disability, it’s been shown that it’s much easier to read to a dog then an adult. Some studies have shown the kid’s reading skills improve. I think this helps provide a beneficial program to the local community.”

“This helps children leave their fear of reading behind, because the dog won’t criticize or correct them,” Mountain House Branch Librarian Kathleen Buffleben said. “This helps them freely read.”

The reading program is open to all age groups. Paws 4 Friends meet from 1 to 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at the Mountain House Branch Library and the third Saturday at the Tracy Branch Library. For more information, people can visit

There will be no meeting this Saturday.

Other programming offered at the library includes a chess club, open to all ages, on Saturdays at both the Tracy and Mountain House branch libraries. In Tracy, the chess club meets from noon to 2 p.m., and in Mountain House, from 3 to 5 p.m. Kids receive a chess lesson and then have open chess time. On the second Tuesday of the month, teens can enjoy a free game night from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Tracy Branch Library, and there’s a family story time at 6 p.m. Mondays. For more library activities, visit

The Tracy library is at 20 E. Eaton Ave. The Mountain House library is at 250 E. Main Street. Contact number for both is 937-8221.

For more local activities, read the Datebook section of the Tracy Press.

• Contact the Tracy Press at or 835-3030.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 15, 2014
Humans have raised animals for their own sustenance, for clothing, for tools, and for companionship, over thousands and thousands of years. Even if you were some new Moses giving us a new law to the contrary, you would be bucking an awfully long trend.

Human affection for their doggies goes back as far as there is a historical record. They do make life more enjoyable for their people and so, yeah, therapeutic, I guess. IMHO, you're gonna need a much longer pole for this particular windmill.

August 15, 2014
My life on this planet includes investigating human norms and asking whether there is an ethical reason for each of them. We have categorized animals. I realize some people champion the supposed "rights" or "freedoms" of some animals, while they eat others. The canine has actually become an ecological blight on the environment, and so, too, has the bovine, but for different reasons. I won't delineate this fact, because I realize some of our prejudices are defended by tradition, as if by virtue of having been practice for a long time, it makes a particular human behavior acceptable and/or right. I am merely suggesting if you were to ask a cow whether he would prefer we eat dog, he would likely say to you: "Yes, please!" I am also suggesting the affection you show one animal is bastardized by the cruelty and violence you dismiss that is experienced by the one you eat. Carnism is a choice, not an inheritance.

Why is it against the law to videotape the brutality in C.A.F.Os?

We know this answer.

I think a child's education ought to include a tour of a C.A.F.O.
August 16, 2014
This is a great story about how these furry friends are helping these kids enjoy reading.

I am confidant that readers of Tracy Press will give your ideas the consideration they think appropriate.
August 15, 2014
So, we call canines therapy dogs? Do we call bovines dinner? Stop with the propaganda. To show questionable affection to one animal (the one tethered to you) while eating another is hypocritical.

Yes, we decide which animals may live in luxury and which animals will die in squalor.

Stop breeding animals for selfish purposes.

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