Kids are cute, and cats are cute. Why not to have both? What can be more adorable that children reading books to their furry friends?
A Pennsylvania rescue center encourages kids to read to the local felines as part of their âBook Buddiesâ program â and cats seem to be fascinated. Children aged six to 13 who are able to read at any level are invited into the shelter to read to the cats in the adoption room at Berks County Rescue League.
âBook Buddiesâ sceme started in August 2013, inspired by a fifth grader named Sean, the 10-year-old son of the shelterâs program coordinator Kristi Rodriguez, who was having trouble reading. As Berks ARL Marketing & Communications Director Beth Ireland tells Time, âWe took him to the cat room and said, âWhy donât you practice reading here? The cats arenât going to care if you mess up.ââ
Youngsters not only have a chance to interact with the adorable cats, but they also can also earn prizes which encourages them to read more. When they complete five books, kids receive a prize like stickers or pretzels.
As itâs said on the shelterâs website: âThe 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.â
According to research at Tufts University in Massachusetts pets are a source of support and human-animal interaction can make the learning process more comfortable and enjoyable for children.
Parents of children who have participated in the program are full of praise for the scheme, reports Metro.
âI want to thank you for giving my son the opportunity to participate in a program such as this one,â said one mother.
âI believe it truly helps him to not only read, but to help the animals who do not have warm loving homes, and that we must help speak up for the critters who do not have a voice.â
Another mother added: âThis was a great experience for both of us and we are looking forward to coming back soon. Thanks for all you do for the animals.â
Earlier this month, “Book Buddies” garnered national attention after a photo of a boy reading to a cat at the Animal Rescue League wasÂ posted to Reddit by user Dagorlad.Â According to the Reddit thread, this resulted in a spike in donations to the shelter, with one commenter even askingÂ how to donate from Istanbul.
After the viral Reddit post, the Animal Rescue League thanked everyone who helped and participated on its Facebook page.
It is interesting that it is not the only program involving children-animal communication. In Hamilton, Mont., kids read to shelter animalsÂ at the Bitter Root Humane AssociationÂ through the Keystone to Discovery Enrichment program — a nonprofit for at-risk youths, says the Huff Post.
“Weâve seen that theÂ sound of their voices is soothingÂ for the dogs and cats,” Ria Overholt, Keystone program director, told Ravalli Republic. “It is relaxing to the dogs to hear those calm and steady voices.”