Kids Read to Shelter Cats with "Book Buddies Program"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kids Read to Shelter Cats with �Book Buddies Program�

Therapy dogs have long sat for children who needed someone non-judgmental to talk to and it was discovered over a decade ago that therapy dogs are also great listeners when children learn how to read.

A new program at the Animal Rescue League in Berks County in Birdsboro, Pa. is allowing cats to help kids with their reading.

Cats? Why not, the ARL website reads, “The program will help children improve their reading skills while also helping the shelter animals. Cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing.”

The Book Buddies program at the shelter was founded by Kristi Rodriguez, a program coordinator at the shelter, whose son, Sean, a 10-year-old 5th grader, was having problems with his reading skills.

Last summer, Rodriguez brought Sean in to read to the cats and he loved it so much that he wanted to come back. Since the program’s official founding in August of last year, Sean’s reading skills have shown improvement and he also reads to his dogs at home.

The website says that many children have already benefited from the program, especially home-schooled children in the area.

This may be a great alternative for schools that don’t have a therapy dog program as most communities have shelters.

Unlike therapy dogs, which typically undergo special training to make sure they are well-suited for children in a school setting, this type of a program doesn’t require any special training of the animals and any child in grades 1-8 who wants to participate just has to sign in and go into the cat room during regular business hours.

Editor’s Note: Chloe was one of the cats that kids could read to at the ARL of Berks County. Photo from the organization’s Facebook page.

Do you think it would be more beneficial to read to a cat or a dog, or does it matter?