Over the weekend, a single image of a boy reading to an orange tabby cat was uploaded to Reddit and has since gone viral.
In August 2013, the Animal Rescue League of Berks County in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, began running an adorably unique incentive program called “Book Buddies,” where children in grades 1-8 volunteer to read books to sheltered cats. The ideas was inspired by a 10-year-old named Sean, the son of Kristi Rodriguez, the shelter’s program coordinator.
“The program will help children improve their reading skills while also helping the shelter animals. Cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing,” the shelter explained.
Once a child finishes reading five books, they are rewarded with prizes, such as stickers and snacks. Not to mention, they are given the opportunity to develop their reading skills while also doing their part to care for the animals.
If you happen to talk to people who have never owned a cat or who don’t like cats, they’ll probably be quick to tell you that cats don’t show affection, or that they are snobby and aloof. But that’s not true. The felines in Berks County, despite not having permanent homes, can be seen showing lots of loving affection towards the children.
Since the launch of the project, children who participated in “Book Buddies” have seen a significant improvement in their reading abilities.