Picture this: A school-aged child enters a room at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center with a book in hand, takes a seat on a comfy floor cushion, and begins to read aloud -- to a cat. It’s all part of a new program the shelter has implemented called “Read to the Paw.”

According to Animal Services Supervisor Liz Ford, the program offers numerous benefits. The cats are soothed and socialized by the young reader’s voice, and students are able to strengthen their reading skills and build confidence by reading out loud in front of a non-judgmental audience. Plus, having the children volunteer at the shelter to make a difference in the pets’ lives helps build community relationships and encourages children to get involved.

Read to the Paw is designed for readers between the ages of five and 13.  There is no cost to participate, but students must sign up in advance and have parents sign a general liability waiver. A parent or guardian must be available to supervise the student at all times during reading sessions.

The program will be offered on Thursday afternoons, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the center, located at 3910 Napoleon Lane, off Gilbert Street / Sand Road, south of Iowa City. Each student will read for 15 minutes.

For more information or to sign up for the program, contact the Animal Center at 319-356-5295.

Date of publication

Monday, February 29, 2016