The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Pennsylvania has created the Book Buddies program that is rewarding for both the kids and the kitties involved. Cats waiting to be adopted find human companionship and the sound of the children reading very soothing, and the children (in grades 1-8) are able to develop their reading skills and earn prizes by completing "book tickets."
Reading aloud is a technique that can help kids (and others) not only improve their reading and vocabulary, but also their comprehension and writing skills. It can also help with speech impediments, and the cats offer a non-judgmental presence to make the kids feel comfortable with the exercise.
Found via LaughingSquid.