COLQUITT CO., GA (WALB) - School's out, but some kids in Moultrie are keeping their heads in the books.
A new program is encouraging kids to read aloud to an unusual audience.
There's no doubt summer vacation is a time for kids to relax.
But unfortunately in those weeks off, a kid's reading skills can suffer.
To encourage kids to keep up with their reading, what better way than to pair a child up with an animal that's in need.
9-year-old Dalton Bachelor has been practicing his reading all week for this special day.
"She's been staring at the pages. She would play with me with her claws," says Dalton Bachelor.
Today was the first of many Thursdays for students at Miss Brandi's Learning Center.
Every week, close to 20 kids will come to the Humane Society to read to the animals.
"A lot of teachers see, over the summer that the reading levels don't increase or they actually decrease," says Brandi Watson.
Many of these kids have self-esteem issues or may be too shy to read aloud.
"A lot of them aren't comfortable reading, especially reading to a group of people. And with reading to an animal, you can read to one that's nonjudgmental," says Dawn Blanton.
And just in the first few minutes, Watson says she noticed a difference.
"A lot of them, they got one on one with the animals and read by themselves. I was actually really shocked, because a lot of them at the center are like, 'Miss Brandi, come help me, come help me!' And they got right in front of the animals and really read," says Brandi Watson.
Even some of the cats got involved in the reading today.
Dawn says these kids need the animals as much as the animals need them.
"Some of these animals come in and they haven't had the best background. Some come in and they've been abused. Then when they have this innocent child sitting there, reading to them in this soft tone of voice, it relaxes the animals a little bit. And it helps boost the kids' confidence as well," says Blanton.