We are very excited to announce that in April 2013, SitStayRead will launch the Little Buddies pilot program for first graders. Like the programming we provide for second through fourth grade, Little Buddies brings volunteers with and without their dogs to Chicago Public Schools classrooms. Little Buddies utilizes dog-themed read-alouds, group discussions, and engaging activities to help first graders develop their critical thinking skills and learn to brainstorm, increase their ability to communicate through writing and drawing, learn to identify, understand, and respond to their feelings and emotions, and build connections with animals, adults, and their peers. In addition to dogs, the books used during this six week program incorporate social-emotional topics for kids to explore ranging from feeling happy or scared to the fact that everybody (and every dog!) is different. Research has shown that a student who is emotionally and socially adjusted is likely to achieve early academic success, as well as being more adjusted for the transition into formal schooling (Raver, 2003). We are piloting Little Buddies in six first grade classrooms this spring and look forward to extending the program to each of our partner schools during the 2013-14 school year.