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Ellie’s Heroes: Sit-Stay-Read Non-Profit Organization

Here, at Open Door Press we are passionate about learning and empowering others to learn. Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving and we hope to inspire  readers to enjoy that gift and share it with others. Whether you are a homeschooler, a proud parent, or an educator at a public or private school, we want to  help you foster in children not only an appreciation for reading, but a deep and abiding passion that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

To that end, each month we like to highlight admirable organizations, people or programs that are dedicated to spreading knowledge and encourage a love of learning.  We affectionately refer to these admirable groups and people as “Ellie’s Heroes.”

This month Ellie’s Heroes honors  a wonderful organization called, “Sit-Stay-Read” This non-profit group was created to introduce and further develop student’s literacy skills using an appealing curriculum, certified service dogs, and devoted educational volunteers.  The Sit-Stay-Read (SSR) program is a perfect example of an organization that aligns with our own goals and as such, has been “Paw Picked” by our muse Ellie the Wienerdog.


SSR offers year-long educational programs for lower-income student in Chicago Elementary Schools. Each school’s curriculum is setup to create a foundation of vital literary skills for each grade. Each grade is provided a specially created program formed in tandem with SSR’s Program Advisory Committee, encompassed by SSR staff, educators, volunteers and faculty from a collection of higher educational institutions including the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Literacy, Northeastern Illinois University & DePaul University.

The organization’s creative programs include the following:

Little Buddies – This program is assigned to First Grade Students and consists of a team of one Dog Team, one Program Leader and one Book Buddy, who visit classrooms once a week for an hour at a time, for a total of six consecutive weeks. Each session involves a Read Aloud period followed by a group discussion. Afterwards, classes enjoy an individual creative writing and drawing activity.

Key Concepts: character identification, sequencing & listening comprehension. It also introduces students to the concept of having dogs in the classroom and has a special focus on social emotional learning. 

Tail Blazers – Geared towards Second Graders, this program allows a Program Leader, three Book Buddies and three Dog Teams. This team attends the classrooms for one hour, once a week over eight consecutive weeks. Sessions involve small group structured brainstorming & fluency activities, followed by assisted independent creative writing projects and one on one reading periods with Dog Teams.

Key Concepts: Reading fluency improvement, improved comprehension skills and written expression.

Poetry Pals – Designed for Third Graders,  this program includes three dog teams, a Program Leader and three Book Buddies. These sessions span six consecutive weeks with once a week, hour long periods at a time. They include small group reading periods, thorough poetry discussions, one on one reading time with Dog Teams and independent poetry drafting with Book Buddies.

Key Concepts: Improved reading comprehension & written expression.

We salute Sit-Stay-Read’s mission and efforts to promote educational literacy in areas that normally would not have such opportunities to learn and excel. We hope their example inspires you to explore similar programs that may exist in your own neighborhood or even create a program of your own.  You can find out more about Sit-Stay-Read’s News & Events via their website or social media channels.

If you have story you would like to share or an organization you would like people to become aware of for their good works, please feel free to email us at info@opendoor-press.com, share on our Facebook, tweet it to @EllieWienerdog or tag us on your Instagram post using @elliewienerdog.


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