Planetary Scientist Carl Sagan once said, “One of the greatest gifts adults can give - to their offspring and to their society - is to read to children.”
Putting books into the hands of children and forming meaningful intergenerational relationships is a priority for Arrow Senior Living communities! To support our efforts, we have launched what we call “Arrow Story Corner.” Each month a resident records the reading of a children’s book that highlights an “Arrow Tradition,” and these stories are shared online for all to hear. This tradition has grown from our company-wide Black History Month Story Corners, where residents all around Arrow Communities read children’s books highlighting black figures in history.
To support small businesses and literacy efforts, we host a fundraiser and partner with the EyeSeeMe Children’s Bookstore to purchase and donate copies of the books we read to local schools, and then a portion of our fundraising efforts also support The EyeSeeMe Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to create programs that increase childhood literacy for under-served communities and to promote African American History and multicultural literature that will increase respect and tolerance for diverse cultures.
This month, The Madison Senior Living is taking things a step further and embarking on the adventure of monthly Story Corner events in our community. One of our very own residents will read the Story Corner book of the month to children, as well as other residents, and share in a craft event and snack time. The featured book will then be added to our community library for residents to read to visiting grandchildren. A copy of the book will also be donated to local schools with which our community partners.
In today's world, it can be a challenge for young families to be able to share the time to read together. The challenge is presented from many angles, including working parents/schedules, distant grandparents, schedules of children (sports, etc.), and even literacy and language fluency within the home environment. The intergenerational Story Corner experience is an idea that may help overcome not only these challenges, but also the loneliness and vocational-deficit issues that can be faced by older, retired adults. Building relationships outside the family and entering a “community culture” way of thinking will benefit both sides of this coin.
Recently, The Madison partnered with a local after school program (LINC) within the Martin City K-8 school district. This partnership will prove very valuable in the future, as it will provide the ability to meet with children during an important time of the day – a "wrap-up", if you will, when students need to be investing time in homework, and sharing skills just learned. The Madison has already been supporting the Martin City Elementary School with themed book donations for over two years, so this partnership seems to be a natural step in a more useful direction, for a familiar group.
One of our residents was a reader for Story Corner in February of 2022. During that month, celebrating Black History, books were donated to the Martin City Elementary, after sharing a reading of them on the Arrow Senior Living Facebook page. The resident at the Madison recalls the event as being very moving, as the story read was about Kobe Bryant, two full years after his untimely accidental death. Our reader remembers the story to be so important for youth, as it pointed out overcoming a failure, and becoming a success. This idea is so important in today's culture, where children often only see the successes in their heroes. Bringing that element of the story into play allows children to accept their challenges and helps keep them trying to improve. Our reader knew that someone who saw that video of her reading the book needed to see Kobe's story, and that made her proud to be able to share it.
When asking the residents at The Madison what some of their favorite books to read to their children were, and why, here's what they said: “The Little Engine That Could (Munk 1930) because my son LOVED that book!”; “Goodnight, Moon (M. Wise Brown) because it was a great book to "tuck in" with, each night.”; “The Giving Tree (Silverstein 1964) because it was a terrific story about always finding more to give to those you love.”; and “Never Ending Story (M. Ende) because the verbal imagery was so much better than anything the movie about the book was able to show.”
All our Arrow communities encourage adults to give the gift of reading to youngsters. The relationships formed during the time spent between the reader and listener can be life changing for both generations.