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Don’t be alarmed if you see superheroes, magicians or masked crusaders roaming the halls of CareSouth – it’s all part of the nation’s annual Book Week celebrations. 

The theme for Book Week 2019 is Reading Is My Secret Power and kids from across our programs will don capes, masks, wands and of course books to celebrate the magic of reading.

This year, students in CareSouth’s Homework Hub had a special Book Week guest, Buster the Wonderdog. Buster is now an accredited Story Dog after recently graduating from the literacy training program and he and his Mum/manager, CareSouth Community Hub coordinator Natalie Nicastri, run a weekly reading program in the Homework Hub. Students are encouraged to read books with Buster to improve their literacy skills and love of reading. 

Story Dogs is based on the successful American literacy program, Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), launched a decade ago in Utah. Research by R.E.A.D has found animals are ideal reading companions, because they help children relax, listen attentively, do not judge, laugh or criticise, allow children to proceed at their own pace and are less intimidating than peers or adults.
Buster has been working closely with students from the Homework Hub for the past three months to encourage them to read more books and become confident, life-long readers.

Buster’s first superhero mission for Book Week involved patiently listening to stories (mostly about dogs) read to him by Homework Hub students. Buster received lots of cuddles, pats and scratches behind the ears for his attentiveness and enthusiasm.

Buster has proved he has all the skills needed to be a reading superhero, after taking his Story Dog show on the road last month. He was guest of honour at Hillview Child Care Centre, where he and Nat performed the superhero feat of keeping a dozen preschoolers enthralled during story time. Buster shared several books with the preschoolers to celebrate National Pyjama Day, dedicated to raising funds for children in Foster Care.

Each year Hillview educators and students celebrate National Pyjama Day by donating a gold coin to wear their PJs for the day. Centre director Gino Frino nominated CareSouth’s Homework Hub as their Pyjama Day beneficiary. The centre has donated hundreds of dollars to the program over the past three years, and Buster’s story time visit was CareSouth’s way of thanking the preschool for their ongoing support.

For more information about Story Dogs contact CareSouth on 1300 554 260.

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