Books in the Barn program lets kids read with farm animals | News


RIDGWAY — Big Maple Farm Natural Therapies launched their Books in the Barn program, which allows local youth to sit and read to farm animals, last Wednesday in Ridgway.

A wide variety of Dr. Seuss books and other books for ages 5-13 were available for reading, or registered youth could bring their own books to read. Dr. Seuss’ cupcakes and games helped launch this inaugural Books in the Barn program. Chairs were placed in different stalls with a volunteer, so the youngsters could read to a miniature donkey, several miniature ponies or the lambs in a safe setting – but still personal and close enough to pet.

“The best part of this program is the opportunity to read in a non-judgmental setting because the toy ponies, toy donkey and lambs love to hear voices, and they don’t care if words are missed or pronunciations are not accurate,” said Amanda Balon, executive director of Natural Therapies at Big Maple Farm. “We intend to offer this reading program on a weekly basis. We ask parents to register on the link provided in order to have an estimate of the number of young people who plan to attend each week.

The Books in the Barn program will take place every Wednesday from 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Young people can attend the full half hour or just 15 minutes of the program, as 15 minutes is enough to read one of the little books available. Books in the barn will also be offered on the first and third Sundays of each month from 3-4:30 p.m. Again, youth can attend the full hour and a half or just part of that time.

Big Maple Farm’s Natural Therapies is a Pennsylvania farm that provides opportunities for individuals and the community to improve their quality of life through animal interactions and therapeutic horticulture.

The farm is located at 877 Long Level Road, Ridgway, PA 15853, just seven miles north of the borough of Ridgway.

For questions or additional information about the Books in the Barn program, email Amanda Balon at


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