In an age when book sales are flat, radical new marketing thinking is needed. This article should make publishers sit up, take notice, and possibly beg for a biscuit.

Dog-eared companions

Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Pleasanton Library, 8-year-old Tyler Cavish turns to the first page of “Dogzilla” — a lighthearted fantasy about a city of mice who declare war on a giant dog that threatens to eat them out of house and hole — and begins to read out loud.

“It was summertime in the city of Mousopolis …”

As the fantastical tale begins to unfold, a tail begins to wag. Like a furry metronome beating out a rhythm only a golden retriever named Dave could devise, it keeps time with Tyler’s words. The voices of 17 other children, reading stories to other dogs, join together to create a low-key cacophony in the library’s cavernous Meeting Room.

Tongues loll. Mouths pant. Muzzles nuzzle.

While the idea of children reading one-on-one to dogs to improve kids’ literacy skills might appear as unorthodox as the rhythm of Dave’s tail, it has become par for the course at Pleasanton Library, whose Paws to Read program is now in its third year.