PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The Pitt County Shelter Buddies Reading Program kicked off Tuesday with about 15 kids signed up to read to dogs experiencing stress in their kennels.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon this summer, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., kids are invited to bring a parent, a few books, and all the puppy cuddles they can muster to the shelter.
“The dog that I’m reading to over here is Heidi,” said one volunteer. “It makes me feel very special that I get to come here and pick which ones I get to read to.”
The benefits aren’t just for those with four legs. A University of California, Davis study found that literacy improved by 12% in school-aged children when they joined an animal therapy reading program.
For one Pitt County family, the volunteer hour gave them a chance to connect with not only the pups, but also with cherished family memories.
“These used to be mommy’s before they were mine,” 9-year-old Amelie Henry said while she thumbed through pages. “Puss in Boots is falling apart, which is why we needed to put the spine back together.”
It was a touching moment for Henry’s mom.
“About half of the collection that I have in my third-grade classroom and that Amelie has in her library came from books that I had as a child,” Marina Henry said. “When the flood came from Hurricane Floyd, we lost almost everything. My mom said. ‘Wait, let’s check up here.’ We went up in the crawl space and the books were fine.”
While their pages may be worn, the stories are stronger in Amelie’s hands.
“It makes those books all the more special, for them to have survived through some of the most traumatic things that we as adults have been through,” said mom.
The mother and daughter plan on coming back to read to more dogs throughout the summer.
A link to the sign-up can be found here. The program will run through August 26th.
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