Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Books: Bridges Across Generations

Grandparents and other older family members can have a huge impact on young children, and help form memories that will last a lifetime. Reading together is just one way for them to become a presence in their grandchildren’s lives. Telling stories and sharing childhood memories is another.

With the holidays upon us, you may find yourself with somewhat rare opportunities to visit with extended family, especially grandparents and possibly even great-grandparents. If your children are fortunate enough to see these family members regularly, they’re probably already comfortable with reading together and chatting about their lives. If those visits are less frequent, however, there may be a necessary warming-up period before any interaction can take place. As a grandmother myself, I know how hard it can be to wait for our grandson to welcome us into his world, but patience really is a virtue, especially in this situation, and the reward is truly magical.

If you don’t live close by, video chatting is a fun way to engage more directly than a telephone call allows. You can suggest to grandparents that they give the gift of books, or a gift card to a favorite bookstore so children can choose their own reading material. Magazine subscriptions are a wonderful way to connect through a mutual interest in animals, games, or cooking. For older children, Grandma and Grandpa can offer to read the same book they’re reading so it can be discussed together. And revisiting some of their old favorites can offer a whole new appreciation for the writers and their stories, while sharing tried and true classics with a new generation of readers. If you’d benefit from gift suggestions, the library has a list of recommended books to give this season, our librarians’ choices of some of the best we’ve seen and read this year. 

Lastly, as your child grows older, he or she will remember more and more about these interactions with other family members and treasure them in the future. Try writing down your child’s impressions and memories so they can be shared with those involved. Record your child talking about what they did together and send the message to them. The bonds formed now will nurture relationships and expand their knowledge of and respect for each other in the coming years.

Guest post by Bridget W.

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