Animal Friends' Literacy Services 

Animals make reading fun! Our Reading with Rover and PALS (Pet-Assisted Literacy Services) programs help promote a love of reading through the animal-human bond.

Click below for more information on what each program offers:

Reading with Rover



What Sort of Training Have the Animals and Handlers Received?

Handlers for both programs are trained Animal Friends volunteers who have completed a Literacy Services orientation and training session. All Literacy Services volunteers have completed state-required background clearances including both Pennsylvania Child Abuse and Criminal Background checks.

The dog/handler teams are required to have passed our Animal Friends Therapets Canine Certification test in order to volunteer for our literacy programs. This test ensures that dogs are prepared for working around children and other dogs and that they will enjoy sitting calmly and quietly for extended periods of time. Rabbits and cats participating in our literacy programs are approved by a member of Animal Friends' Behavior Department.

What Books are Used with These Programs?

Reading with Rover and PALS books are selected and approved by both our Humane Education Coordinator and our Literacy Programming Supervisor. They adhere to Animal Friends’ mission and encourage a healthy respect for companion animals while encouraging a love of reading. The list features fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles that reflect responsible pet care.


For more information about Animal Friends’ Literacy Services, or to learn how to become a volunteer with the Reading with Rover or PALS programs, please contact Leah Carlson at lcarlson@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.Org or 412.847.7042.

Click here to see photos from our 2017 Read Across America Day celebration!





Reading with Rover

Animal Friends’ Reading with Rover program helps shy or struggling readers in grades one through three practice reading by having them read aloud to dogs. Our “canine reading specialists” and their handlers provide children with a non-judgmental and supportive environment that helps make reading a more fun and positive experience. The results are increased fluency and a more positive attitude towards reading.

During the school year, Animal Friends partners with a variety of local teachers and librarians to offer the Reading with Rover program to students. Sessions might take place during the school day or in an after-school program.

Children are recommended by their teachers or a reading specialist to participate in Reading with Rover and read to a dog for approximately 15-30 minutes a week for 2-6 weeks.




PALS (Pet-Assisted Literacy Services) events and programs are more informal than the Reading with Rover program. These events generally include an opportunity for children to meet one of our approved literacy animals and then participate in a literacy activity. The activity could be listening to a story at an animal-themed storytime session with an animal present, or it could be the opportunity to read a book, or a few pages, aloud to a visiting animal.

Readers of all ages and ability levels can participate in PALS activities. PALS events often take place outside of the school day at libraries, on-site at Animal Friends, in schools or at community events.

Back to Animal Friends' Literacy Services

Animal Friends

Caryl Gates Gluck Resource Center
562 Camp Horne Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Phone: 412.847.7000 | Fax: 412.847.7001
M-F 11 a.m.-7 p.m. | S/S 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Copyright 2015 Animal Friends Inc.