Santa Clara’s Northside Library teamed up with Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA) and Palo Alto Humane Society’s (PAHS) Kiddies 2 Kitties program for a special afternoon of reading on April 1.
As part of the library’s April Drool’s Day event, which saw approximately 70 kids visit the library for a viewing of 101 Dalmatians and PAHS’s film, It’s a Dog’s Day, 40 children signed up to read to SVACA’s cats between 2 and 4 p.m.
According to Northside’s Branch Manager and Program Coordinator Cheryl Lee, the event came about after SVACA’s Outreach Coordinator Janet Alexander contacted her about a partnership between the two organizations.
“I thought it was a great partnership because I’ve never seen a library partner up with an animal shelter to do kittens,” she said “I’ve always seen dogs being read to but not kittens … Our parents, they’re like me, they don’t have a lot of time to take care of an animal in their home so this is a way for the kids to be exposed to animals without the parents actually having to have the added responsibility of taking care of them.”
Rivermark Mom Manisha Sahni brought her son, Anay, 6, to the event after hearing about it through the Rivermark Mom’s mailing group.
“He loves animals and I thought it might be a good way to expose him in a safe environment,” she said. “He loves reading, too, so it’s a great way to combine those hobbies together.”
Anay read a “Pete the Cat” book to SVACA’s 10-year-old black cat, Atlas. Anay said he wanted to attend because he likes cats and the fact that “we can have them as pets,” although the Sahni family is currently petless. He also said he was eager to return and read whenever the program happens again.
Likewise, Santa Claran Kathleen Allas brought her 7-year-old daughter, Hannah, who also read a “Pete the Cat” book to Atlas, because the family doesn’t own any animals.
“We don’t have pets,” she said, “and they want pets, so this is the next best thing to having a cat. It’s also educational.”
Hannah said she enjoyed reading to Atlas and would like to come back again if the event was repeated. “It’s cool,” she said.
Lee mentioned that she had received positive feedback from the parents as they were leaving. “We’ve had about half of them wanting to read again, which is great,” she said, noting that the event saw a surprisingly high turnout rate and she would like to continue the program on a quarterly basis. “We always encourage parents and kids to read together. This allows the opportunity for them to do that with the animals … I think it’s really fun for kids and parents alike to have the opportunity to be in the presence of these animals. It’s just so cute.”
Children interested in reading to SVACA’s cats can sign up for the shelters Kiddies 2 Kitties program, held the first and third Wednesday of each month from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. In addition to a full lineup of scheduled events, Santa Clara’s Northside Library will begin signups for its summer reading program on June 1. Visit http://svaca.com/home/showdocument?id=15532 for more information on Kiddies 2 Kitties and http://santaclaraca.gov/government/departments/library/about-the-library/northside-branch-library/northside-events for Northside’s calendar listings.