Manor ISD brings reading therapy dogs to school libraries open for summer

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MANOR, Texas (KXAN) — Kids using school libraries in Manor this summer will be able to read to therapy dogs, a less stressful alternative for readers who are still learning.

Six Manor ISD school libraries are open one day each week this summer —three open on Tuesdays and three on Wednesdays. The district will bring therapy dogs to three of the campuses over the next two weeks.

“Reading to a dog is so much less threatening than reading to another adult,” said Celeste Sodergren, the district’s coordinator for continuous improvement and co-coordinator of summer school and summer programs.

Tuesday from 9-10 a.m., kids can read to a Dog Alliance therapy dog at Pioneer Crossing Elementary; two libraries, Bluebonnet Trail and Oak Meadows elementary schools, will welcome dogs on Wednesday.

The district started opening libraries to all families during the summer a few years ago, Sodergren said, because Manor doesn’t have a public library. “We do have a small volunteer library, but it’s entirely staffed by volunteers,” she said. “So as you can imagine, the hours are difficult for some of our families.”

Manor City Manager Thomas Bolt told KXAN the cost of a library is too high to consider in the near future; the city is focusing bond money on roads and hike and bike trails as the population grows, and a library likely would cost more on an annual basis than it would take in.

It’s not out of the question, Bolt said, but not in the cards in the coming years.

Kelvin Odoemene, who has two kids in Manor ISD, appreciates having the chance to bring them to the school libraries during the break. He keeps up with their reading while they’re at home, but it’s nice to have variety.

“If they read at home every time, sometimes it becomes tedious,” Odoemene said. “And they think it’s a punishment. And we don’t want them to lose interest.”

Both his children, 6-year-old Precious and 8-year-old Justin, go to Bluebonnet Trail Elementary; they didn’t mind going to school last week to meet the therapy dog.

“The kids need to keep connecting with their education,” Odoemene said.

Manor ISD also provides a mobile library that travels the district, plus little free libraries installed at various community meeting places.

The school libraries that are open this summer are within walking distance of neighborhoods where families are in need of summer activities and continued education, Sodergren said.

“They may have only one family car, and that’s probably at work,” she said.

It costs the district about $10,000 to keep the libraries open, which they fund through a grant from Samsung. With more grant money, they’d be able to open more libraries more often. “We have librarians who are ready and willing to work, we just have to come up with the cash.”

Odoemene hopes Manor will eventually establish a true public library; until then, he will keep bringing his kids to school over the summer so they can keep up their interest.

“Kids, when they’re interested in things,” he said, “they learn how to do it.”

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