How to teach kids kindness, compassion, and respect for cats? It’s one of the greatest questions of all. Done widely and consistently, it brings fantastic results and benefits not only cats, but children and the whole society, as we all know that compassionate and respectful children become fantastic adults that make our world a better place.
There are many ways of how to build a connection between kids and cats and how to educate youngsters on essentials of human-animal relation. (Share in comments below the ways that help to build compassion and respect for animals in kids and young people.) Here is one simple, creative, and an effective approach one rescue in Pennsylvania implemented, which allowed to improve not only kids’ reading skills, but also added to the bond between children and cats.
“The Book Buddies Program is a community outreach program, that enables children in our community to come in, read to the cats, earn prizes, and spend some extra love on our cats here at the shelter. It helps to improve the children’s reading skill, as well as a self-esteem.” – Shares Kristi Rodriguez, a Volunteer Coordinator at Animal Rescue League of Becks County, Pennsylvania.
The Animal Rescue League’s “Book Buddies” program is a creative way to connect children with cats and books. Kristi sent out fliers to schools, libraries and speech programs and invited kids of grades 1-8 to come to the shelter and read to cats. It has been an interesting experience – children enjoy reading to cats and feel comfortable as cats don’t judge their reading. It benefits cats too – the rhythmic sound of reading has a calming effect on cats. (Try that at home!) Cats get love and attention, they socialise, which helps the cats to get adopted.
Launched in August 2013 the Program has shown fantastic results. Kids’ reading skills improved, Sean, the Kristi’s son, even started reading to his family’s dogs at home. The program is welcomed by the community, by parents who want to teach their kids compassion and love for cats, who wants to see an improvement in their kids’ reading. Autistic children also benefit from this experience – the research done by Tuft University showed that while interacting with animals, autistic kids increase the use of language and social interactions. Parents who cannot have cats at home found visiting the cats in a shelter a good option to expose their kids to cats.
Watch the video showing the “Book Buddies” program at work:
So if you have a child who has a trouble reading, let the kid read to the cats or other pets you may have.
It would be fantastic to see the program implemented in our Australian shelters and cat rescues. Kids would come to practice reading to cats, which will improve the reading skill, will built a bond between a child and a cat, and will benefit our Aussie cats – they will feel loved and will get socialised.
For more about the “Book Buddies” program and to contact Kristi directly, visit Animal Rescue League’s web site here
A quick read on Teaching Children How to Care for Animals, from the Animal Rescue League, is here
Kids Helped Shelter Cats
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