Waterlefe's Lisa Hantverk loves finding ways to get her granddaughter Ana Hantverk into a library.
She said it is an invaluable resource for children and something they can utilize for a lifetime.
But it's not just books that attract children.
On Sept. 24, it was the free Read 2 Dogs program at the Braden River Library that interested 4-year-old Ana, who loved being close to the dogs.
Hantverk stood in the center of the room and smiled.
"I love that she uses the library," Lisa Hanverk said.
Also enjoying the library was Lakewood Ranch 7-year-old Marissa Mae Famularo. Her mom, Jenelle Famularo, also was smiling as she watched her daughter interact with the dogs.
"She loves animals, but we can't get her a dog because her brother is allergic," Jenelle Famularo said. "But she loves everything from a spider to a horse."
Braden River Children's Librarian Chris Culp said the program usually is held the third or fourth Saturday of each month. Anyone interested can check the county's library calendar at MyManatee.org. The October event also was being held during the Friends of the Library Week.
"This is a non-judgmental reading zone," Culp said. "And these dogs are trained to be around children. They are good listeners, so the kids can practice reading aloud."
They can read without being stopped or corrected.
While they are reading, the kids can pet and hug the dogs.
Parrish's Kathryn Gover brought her service dog, Captain, to the event. The 7-year-old black Labrador retriever has served at Read 2 Kids before and he also works around kids at the county's Child Advocacy Center.
"He is great around kids, and they like him," said Gover, who added that she volunteers at the event because "Captain likes it."
Besides reading, Gover said the children love to tell stories about their own dogs.
Lakewood Ranch's Mary Scharf brought her Labrador retriever Marjorie to the event. A retired teacher, Scharf said she loves the no-judgment atmosphere for reading.
Also a volunteer at Southeastern Guide Dogs, Scharf said Marjorie had a litter of four puppies who all became Southeastern Guide Dogs graduates.
East County's Linda Moore brought double the fun with her 10-year-old Shelties, Annie and McGee,. The children loved snuggling up to both dogs at the same time.
"These dogs are big fans of people," said Moore, who also is a retired teacher. "They are so calm."
Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.