READ Program.

Mission. The mission of the R.E.A.D.® program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as literacy mentors.

About. The Reading Education Assistance Dogs® (R.E.A.D.®) program improves children's reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to an animal. But not just any animal. R.E.A.D.® companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owners/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries, and other settings as reading companions for children.

R.E.A.D.® is the first and foremost program that utilizes therapy animals to help kids improve their reading and communication skills and also teaches them to love books and reading. It's been growing around the world since November of 1999 when ITA launched it in Salt Lake City.

Today, over 3,500 registered R.E.A.D.® teams work throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, and beyond. R.E.A.D.® is one of those ideas that, in the words of Bill Moyers, "pierces the mundane to arrive at the marvelous."

In the Helena Valley, our R.E.A.D.® teams visit elementary schools in East Helena and Helena. Most of the children who read to our pet/handler teams are third-graders, but summer schools and special programs include other grades as well. Visits last one hour and, in most cases, children have 15-minute appointments to read one-on-one to a therapy animal.





It’s fun reading out loud to dogs and cats, as students in Helena Valley elementary schools can attest. Now our Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) Program has expanded to the Lewis & Clark Library. On Saturday December 17 and Saturday January 21, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., readers ages 5 and up are invited to read their favorite books out loud to our therapy dogs and cats.

            Founded in Salt Lake City 15 years ago, the R.E.A.D. program has expanded to all 50 states and several foreign countries. A recognized literacy program, R.E.A.D. has helped improve reading comprehension, skill, and fluency, and it has brought the joys and benefits of reading to kids around the world.

            To participate in the Lewis & Clark Library’s R.E.A.D. program, register at the Library’s front desk or call 406-447-1690.


Saturday December 17 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Saturday January 21 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.



Steps to Becoming a R.E.A.D.® Team:

1. Become registered with an animal-assisted therapy group. This will give you insurance during a visit, and some of the training you will need to become a R.E.A.D.® team. All of the active R.E.A.D.® teams in the Helena Book Hounds program are registered with Intermountain Therapy Animals or are applying for registration with ITA.

2. Attend a R.E.A.D.® training workshop. Although there is a R.E.A.D.® home study course, attendance at a live workshop is required wherever available. There are now R.E.A.D.® training workshops in both Helena and Bozeman, Montana. This is a workshop for handlers without their pets.

Fee Schedule
Workshop and manual: $40
Lifetime membership fee: $60
Discounted Fee for Registered ITA Members
Workshop, manual, and lifetime membership: $65 total

3. Complete the application, which includes a 35-question written test, signed policies and procedures, proof of liability insurance (your therapy program registration card with the expiration date showing), and membership fee (see schedule above). The lifetime fee covers you and one animal for life, as long as you stay current with your animal-assisted therapy program. You will also send ITA headquarters a copy of your therapy group membership card, with the expiration date showing, every time you renew. Each additional animal’s registration fee is $10.

Once ITA receives your paperwork, you will receive a membership card, R.E.A.D.® dog tag, and a letter saying you are registered with the R.E.A.D. program. Once registered with R.E.A.D., you will have access to an online discussion group and electronic templates for the fun stuff you will see in the R.E.A.D. manual.

For detailed information about the R.E.A.D.® program and research supporting it, go to and click on R.E.A.D.

Members of the Helena Book Hounds program (our R.E.A.D.® affiliate program) are invited to attend discussion groups and special trainings whenever they are scheduled.

Membership in the R.E.A.D.® program is extended to all who are interested, with or without a registered therapy animal. We welcome teachers, school administrators, reading specialists, and the interested public to all of our workshops.

Check our Events page for the next R.E.A.D.® workshop in Helena.


We would like to thank our Corporate Sponsors for their continued support.


Charlotte Snyder, Most Wanted Advertising

Most Wanted Advertising, Inc.

Jon Miller, State Farm

State Farm