News and views of Chicago's animal rescue community and supporting businesses

Story time for Max

The little boy walked into the children’s room at the Great Lakes Rec Center to participate in the Words and Whiskers program – Love on a Leash’s latest children’s reading program. He hid behind his mom with his hoodie drawn, peaking out at the visitors to the base.

Max gears up for another reading program - this time at Great Lakes Naval Base.

Then, he saw Max. A big smile spread across his face and his eyes lit up. Soon, he was dumping his hoodie and the safety of his mom to sprawl on the floor with Max the cat. Two friends, reunited after several months.

It was the first night of the new program and our first guest was the same little boy that read us the great haunted house story at the library last fall around Halloween. With a twinkle in his eye and his own books in tow, we went off to the media room for reading time. I don’t know who was happier – our young reader or the fluffy purring kitty sprawled out next to him.

Several reading programs have cropped up around the country using animals. Since many kids have trouble reading out loud especially if they are struggling, the dogs and cats in the programs make a great audience. They just listen and enjoy the attention and scratch behind the ears. No judgment – no critique.

The program is apparently paying off for our little reader. He brought a copy of “Hop on Pop” and a story about a Moose. In the months since he last read to Max, there’s been a great improvement in his reading. On thing hasn’t changed, we still got great sound effects and descriptions of the pictures in the book as only a first grader could describe to his four-legged friend. I do have to say, I think it’s the best rendition of “Hop on Pop” I’ve ever heard.

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