PAWS to Read - Reading to a dog with Panhandle Animal Shelter

Book Buddy Program

The main objective of the Book Buddy reading program is to provide a relaxed and judgment-free “cat-friendly” environment, which allows children to practice their reading skills. Many children have difficulties reading and as a result, become self-conscious and lose confidence. By sitting down with a cat and reading to it all worries about being judged are put aside. The child relaxes, pets the attentive cat, and focuses on their reading. Reading improves because the child is working on their reading skills, self-esteem grows with earning stars and finishing books, and reading becomes associated with a pleasant, fun adjunct activity.

Reading to animals was tested a UC Davis’s School of Veterinary Medicine with wonderful results. Reading fluency improved as much as 30% and 75% of parents reported that their children read more frequently and with greater confidence.

How it works

Each participant in the Book Buddy program has his or her name is put on our Participation Board located at our Cat Lobby entrance. For each book, the participant reads and completes, a sticker is placed on the Participation Board next to their name. When a child completes 16 books they are rewarded with $5.00 in Shelter Bucks. Credit that they can spend at our Thrift Store. Children may bring their own book from home or borrow one of the shelter’s books which are located at the entrance to the Cat Lobby. We do require that a parent accompany their child if the child is under 10 years of age.

Shelters can be a stressful place for animals, and reading out loud to them can help reduce some of the stress they experience while with us. Not only that, but animals provide a space of judgment-free unconditional love that we all need. Not only is this program is great for a child to practice their reading, but what a great way to practice a new language or for anyone who loves to read and wants to snuggle a shelter cat.