Children in grades 1-8 who are able to read at any level are invited to the NHSPCA to read to either the cats in our community rooms, a friendly dog, or a small animal from the Humane Ed classroom. The program will help children improve their reading skills while also helping the animals by providing socialization and human interaction. Animals find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing.

Many children struggle with reading at school and often feel reluctant to practice at home with a parent. An animal is a completely non-judgmental listener.  Many students have shown remarkable improvement in their reading skills and feel more confident and relaxed while reading after participating in a program such as this.

According to studies by researchers at Tufts University (2010):

  • “Pets can be considered a source of support”
  • “Human-animal interaction can make the learning process more comfortable and enjoyable for children”
  • “Autistic children who were put in contact with an animal demonstrated increased use of language and had improved social interactions while with the animal”
  • Children showed “sustained focus and maintained a higher state of awareness, as well as improved attitudes toward school”
  • Animals can be a “non-evaluative presence that can provide support and comfort to participants without judging them”
  • Children who did this “improved their reading skills compared with those who read to human volunteers”.

In order to participate, children must be registered in advance by calling Paula Parisi, Manager of Humane Education Programs at 603-772-2921, ext. 113. Dates are the third Wednesday of each month beginning in October through May. Times are at 20 minute intervals between 3:00 and 5:00 PM.

This program is free but donations are greatly appreciated. Children should wear comfortable clothes and bring their own book(s) to read. A Humane Ed staff person or volunteer will be present for assistance and support.