UNIONDALE - The first-graders at Smith Street School in Uniondale spent part of their day reading to a very good listener: a dog.

The students read to Ollie, who was rescued by retired teacher Gail Schwartz three years ago.

The Reading to Dogs program was founded by the pet rescue organization Bideawee because dogs are considered ideal companions and listeners.

According to their website, teachers report that children participating in the program demonstrate improved reading skills, decreased school absenteeism, increased frequency in the completion of homework assignments and improved self-confidence.

The program partners with nine schools and 17 libraries on Long Island.