It doesn’t get much cuter than kids bonding with animals, but a new Humane Society program is about more than just Instagram-worthy moments.
Books & Buddies, a program hosted at the Nevada Humane Society, gives young kids a chance to read to rescue cats and dogs, in hopes of both improving the kids’ literacy skills and increasing the adoption rate for homeless pets. According to a 2010 study by researchers at University of California, Davis, young students who read aloud to dogs through a similar program improved their reading skills by 12 percent over 10 weeks. Those researchers also found that 75 percent of parents said their children read aloud more often and more confidently after they’d finished the program. “The dogs, in contrast to a human, don’t judge the individual, aren’t grading the individual, and hopefully that allows the children to build some confidence in their reading skills,” Martin Smith, a veterinary school science educator and lead researcher on the UC Davis study, said in a press release.
A young boy reads to a dog with the Nevada Humans Society’s Books & Buddies program. (Photo: KOLO News 8)
Program organizers at the Nevada Humane Society say that the program, which launched earlier this month, is equally beneficial for the animals, who get socialization and attention out of the hour they spend with kids, and that increased comfort around humans makes them more likely to attract the attention of potential owners.
“It’s not just dogs and cats,” Nikole Nichols, who heads up the Books & Buddies program, told KOLO 8 News. “If somebody wants to read to a guinea pig or a turtle, we can make that happen.”
Studies show that reading to animals can help improve a child’s literacy skills. (Photo: KOLO News 8)
Young participants in the program, which is offered to students in first through fifth grades and allows children to read from a book of their choosing, are already giving rave reviews. “I love it!” Shane, a first-grader, told KOLO 8 News. “I wanted to read to a cat, so I did, and I found this really great cat!” Ben, who also chose to read to cats, said he came to the program two days in a row. “I have three very old [cats] at home and they’re not playful, but I thought ‘you know what, if I come and read to cats multiple times, I’ll probably see some playful ones.”
(Top photo: KOLO News 8)