Friday, September 6, marks National Read a Book Day, a fun day across the country when everyone is encouraged to pick up a book and read. But did you know that animals like being read to—not just on Read a Book Day, but any day of the year?
Many rescues and shelters across the country, including the ASPCA Adoption Center, have reading programs where volunteers are able to read to the shelter animals in an effort to comfort them and alleviate any stresses they may encounter in a shelter setting.
At the ASPCA, our Storytelling Program focuses on animals who are healing both physically and mentally from various situations including cruelty and neglect. Storytelling volunteers can read any book of their choice—from classics to mysteries to poetry—to animal residents of the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center and the ASPCA Gloria Gurney Canine Annex for Recovery & Enrichment. Both facilities provide a calming environment as animals (often from NYPD cases) recover, heal and await next steps before they can be made available for adoption.
Storytellers help socialize dogs who may be extremely scared, traumatized or physically recovering, with the idea that a soothing voice and presence can calm agitated or fearful dogs. This helps them as they get ready to move on to the Adoption Center and find loving homes.
Since we launched the Storytelling Program in 2014, 561 unique volunteers have logged over 10,000 hours reading to our healing animals! And our program isn’t limited to just reading; volunteers can also play instruments if they so please. Celebrities such as stage legend Bebe Neuwirth have even stopped by to read to a few sweet dogs.
Reading to shelter animals can be a beneficial experience not only for rescued animals, but for you too! Call your local shelter or rescue to see if they have a reading program for their animals or consider reading aloud to your furry friends at home.