Reading Aloud to Cats
Did you ever read to your stuffed animals as a child? Perhaps your family pet enjoyed having you share a colorful picture book as he lay by your side with the bed lamp illuminating the pages. Reading aloud to pets allows children to practice their reading skills to a non-judgmental audience.
In my house you can hear, “Here kitty, kitty! I want to read a storybook to you!” all day long. You see, my family cares for homeless kittens and cats for an organization in Central Florida called Candy’s Cats. It gives our family, especially our young daughters, the opportunity to volunteer and learn how to give of themselves. My daughters are responsible for the socialization of the felines we care for. The kitties come to us scared and hissing, but the girls know that reading storybooks to them will help the unsure kittens learn to trust them. It works; and other programs around the country have embraced reading to cats reaping benefits for both the reader and the listener.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for room here on Earth.” These rich words, gifted by Mahatma Gandhi, bespeak the importance of volunteering and service learning. Teaching about giving of oneself to others is one of my favorite topics to speak with students about. Books fill the library shelves of stories of children making a positive impact in their communities by volunteering. Meaningful activities such as reading to animals are highly regarded as a rewarding volunteering activity.
In Pennsylvania, there is a “Book Buddies” program through the Animal Rescue League of Berks County. Students in grades 1-8 can bring books to the shelter and read to the cats who are awaiting their forever homes. What are the benefits of reading to cats? There are so many! Both the cat and the child benefit from this experience, in that, the cat is soothed by the child’s voice sharing the story and the child gets to practice the skills of reading aloud which provides substantial literacy benefits. (Read the full article here.)
Children who read aloud gain skills that will last a lifetime.
Reading aloud allows children to practice their fluency skills and strengthen comprehension. It helps second-language learners build English literacy, provides for the opportunity to craft dramatic reading, and addresses national literacy standards. All of these reasons support the foundation for encouraging children to read aloud.
Don’t be afraid to read aloud with them as your enthusiasm will be contagious when their confidence might not be so high. Go ahead and grab a book to read aloud!
There are many community volunteering programs that are available for children to read to animals. Here are a few:
The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D)
The Black Stallion Literacy Project
Best Friends Animal Society