By Ann Minnett
An animal shelter in Berks County, Pennsylvania is helping young students improve their reading skills by reading to cats. Yes, cats!
The story appeared on http://thedodo.com and received a lot of attention on FaceBook. This program provides good reading practice for the children and wonderful company for the animals awaiting adoption. But so much more goes on when someone reads to another (human or animal).
The social/emotional connection affects both partners. We touch, exchange facial expressions, and generally communicate below the level of the words on the page. Most parents know the importance of reading to an child even before she can speak. The child learns language to the extent she hears language, but when parents cuddle a child to read, they are bonding and sharing so much more. Apparently those benefits extend to other living creatures.
Garrett and I used to read together when he was little, while a silly gray cat roamed in and out of our laps. One of my favorite memories was when he was in the second grade and I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, He said, “Books, Momma. I just want books.” I shouted a silent “Yeah! I’ve done something right!.”