Programs that encourage kids to read to animals

Thor at work
Thor, hard at work Photo: Steve Bacon @OdinKnowz

I have a friend who takes his dock-diving champion dog Thor to local elementary schools every week to help kids learn to read without the fear of a listener making fun of them when they stumble over words. One of his students told him that she brought her reading grade from a D to a B since reading to Thor.

Recently, the ASPCA’s ProBlog ran a feature on this topic. Here’s what they had to say:

Let kids come read to the cats and dogs in your care for this win-win-win scenario:

The animals will learn social skills that can help them get adopted
The children will improve literacy skills while learning compassion for furry friends
Your shelter will strengthen relationships in the community

These past few years, we’ve been observing with great excitement as more shelters have hopped on board the “kids reading to animals” bandwagon. In some cases, kids are allowed into kennels and cat rooms to share a cuddle with animals as they read, and in others, they read from outside the cage door. In all cases, mega enrichment and bonding occurs!

As a bonus, we’ve been watching these programs do well on social networks and with the media—because when are cute kids and animals ever not a hit?

Think a program like this would work for your community? Here are resources to help get you started:

Read and Relax program for dogs

Book Buddies program for cats

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