Project READ: A literary-based intergenerational program

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Project READ is uniting students from the Nauset Middle School (serving Brewster, Eastham, Orleans and Wellfleet) and seasoned adults from the area. “Seniors, retirees, and lifelong readers” are invited to join intergenerational book groups. The seniors independently read literature that the students are reading through school. The “bookend” generations do the same homework, preparing notes for discussion. Then the adults attend class and join in the students’ small group discussions, sharing their ideas, insights and life experiences. In the fall, there is a one-time discussion of the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson (published in 1948). In the spring, participants read one of two books, The Giver by Lois Lowry or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and then discuss them over several sessions.

The program is now organized by three teachers from Nauset. They work in conjunction with the Intergenerational Experience (IGE), an intergenerational leadership team with members representing libraries, senior centers, after-school programs, camps, religious organizations, retired teachers and the greater community. IGE was formed under the guidance of professor emeritus, Dr. Ed Klugman, to assess what programs were occurring in the greater community and how they could create new intergenerational connections. Project READ grew out of this team and was successfully piloted in the spring of 2014. The group now meets a couple of times a year to discuss upcoming opportunities, recruiting volunteers, and program evaluation.

photo (8)Impact! There are so many benefits to Project READ participants. While engaging with older members of the community about the stories, the young adults come to understand the many similarities we have as people – regardless of our age. The older adults enjoy spending time with the students and seeing the schools today. The stories come to life in new ways and the adult volunteers are able to explore the readings using the prompts that the teachers provide. Also, other intergenerational opportunities are springing forth from the collaboration of the IGE leadership team.

For more information, please contact Ann McConchie at mcconchiea@nausetschools.org.

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