DELTA – A new program at Delta Community Animal Shelter has kids reading to creatures in care.
So far, close to 20 children have signed up for the Tales 4 Tails Reading Enhancement Program, which aims to improve kids’ reading skills while helping to calm and socialize animals at the shelter.
The program was launched at the beginning of July.
"It has been incredible to observe kids reading to the shelter animals," said Sarah Jones, manager of the Hopcott Road facility.
"The cats cozied up very quickly to their Tales 4 Tails buddy and were very much at ease, and that made the kids feel so proud."
During a recent session, North Delta resident Ryan Jull, 11, read from a "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book as Kimmie, a 12-year-old ragdoll cat, roamed nearby.
"I’ve read to her before, and this is my fourth time here already," said Ryan.
"I love animals, so it’s great. My mom is allergic to cats, so we can’t have one at home."
Kimmie wasn’t eating anything until after the first time Ryan read to her, Jones said.
"It’s amazing how she’s responded to it," Jones added.
Some dogs are part of the program, but it’s mostly cats, she explained.
"We have some rabbits, too, but we warn kids that they’ll try to eat the books," Jones said with a laugh.
Similar programs are operated at animal shelters in the U.S.
"I wanted to figure out a way that children could get involved with the shelter animals, as the future of animal welfare is grounded in how our children feel about them," Jones said.
"These kids are still too young to volunteer here, so this is something they can do to help."
For every 15-minute reading session they do, kids get a ballot to enter in a grand prize draw of books donated by Fraser Valley Regional Library.
To participate in the Tales 4 Tails program, call 604-940-7111.