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October 24, 2017

Kate Jerome uses reading to build bridges between generations

Reading Partners South Carolina is taking relationship-building between students and tutors to a new level, thanks to a partnership with children’s book author and intergenerational expert, Kate Jerome.

After spending a year working with researchers at the Center on Longevity as a part of the inaugural class of  Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute, Jerome created a new series of children’s books specifically designed to encourage conversations between generations. The series, called Read Together/ Do Together, is designed to initiate meaningful conversations between kids and adults that not only promote literacy, but also contribute to a child’s social and emotional development.

With more than half of Reading Partners South Carolina’s tutors being over the age of 55, Kate’s works, Lucky to Live in South Carolina and South Carolina: What’s So Great About the State?, provide great resources for students and tutors to start building positive relationships.

It can be intimidating for both volunteers and students to begin building their year-long relationships. To ease into the process, Kate’s books provide the pair with an introductory activity designed to find common ground on topics, including favorite books and local wildlife. As students share their thoughts, volunteers are then able to contribute their own stories and build connections.

Learning about students’ favorite books early on has given tutors a better understanding of what books will inspire and capture their young reader’s attention during weekly sessions. With Kate’s books, tutors and students are able to bond over shared experiences beyond the classroom. For example, tutor Jocelyn and student Marvin discovered their shared love of pets— Jocelyn has two dogs and Marvin has two pet birds.

Many of our tutors agree that the relationship built with their student is the reason they return to Reading Partners year after year. We’re so excited to see the impact of these relationship-building activities as the year unfolds.

Kate Jerome is sharing her knowledge on the benefits of intergenerational relationships in her contribution to the study: Hidden in Plain Sight: How Intergenerational Relationships Can Transform Our Future. Her TedxCharleston talk, “Ignore the Gap: Connections Are Key To Disrupt Aging”, can be viewed online.

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