No doubt some of you have already seen this photo—an adorable shot of young boy reading to a shelter cat nearly as big as he is—that lit up the Interwebs last weekend and into the early part of this week. It wasn’t until yesterday, though, that I learned of the story behind the picture.
The photo was taken as part of the Book Buddies program at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, where children grades 1–8 come to read to the cats in the adoption room. “The program will help children improve their reading skills while also helping the shelter animals,” explains ARL on the organization’s website. “Cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing.”
According to The Atlantic Cities, all this buzz has others interested in hosting their own Book Buddies, too.
“Don’t be surprised if more of these programs pop up around the country. The Birdsboro animal rescue has already gotten calls from shelters in L.A., New York, and Chicago, all interested in starting similar initiatives.”
And, explains Beth Ireland, ARL’s director of marketing in a press release, “we received word on Monday morning that Halo, a pet food company co-owned by Ellen Degeneres will be donating 10,000 meals to our shelter.”
Kudos to ARL and the community they serve—all this positive attention is well deserved!
Now, for anybody who’d like to know which books cats appreciate most, I can check with my friend and Best Friends colleague, Jennifer Johnson, who’s spent countless hours reading to the cats at Best Friends’ Sanctuary. (If I recall correctly, the Harry Potter series was quite popular.)