Book hounds Murphy and Marley are inviting area children to "Make a Splash" this summer by joining the Newcomerstown Public Library's Book Hound Club to read to the dogs once a week beginning Wednesday, June 9.

The program runs through Aug. 11 and ends with an awards party at 1 p.m. Aug. 18. Children sign-up to read to the dogs for one 15-minute session each Wednesday. Children attending 5 out of the 10 sessions will receive a certificate signed by Murphy and Marley and children attending six or more sessions will receive a Book Hound Trophy. The Book Hound Club is open to children in grades 1-6.

Parents need to register their child for the program by calling the Newcomerstown Public Library at 498-7706 or 498-8228; or by stopping in at the library located at 123 E. Main St., Newcomerstown. Let the staff know about any special need a child has when registering.

Murphy and Marley are bloodhound/labrador mixes owned by Library Director Linda Hren who runs the Book Hound Club Program. The dogs are certified therapy dog through Therapy Dog International. To be certified, dogs must pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test and also pass additional tests that evaluate health, temperament, training and social skills.

The Newcomerstown Public Library Book Hound Club is modeled after the READ (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) program developed in Salt Lake City by Sandi Martin. Intermountain Therapy Animals, a nonprofit organization based in Salt Lake, launched READ in 1999. Since that time, the organization has collected data on the benefits of children reading to dogs showing impressive improvement in reading skills, self confidence and self esteem.