On a recent Friday morning, 20 tots and their parents gathered with 15 residents of Sunrise Senior Living in Buffalo Grove for an "Oaks and Acorns" story time hosted by Vernon Area Public Library. The third such library event since December 2015, the intergenerational experience has proved popular with participants.
As Sunrise residents situated themselves around the room, children ages zero to four and their caregivers formed a cluster in the center, ready for story time. Heather Hageli, youth services librarian at Vernon Area Public Library, welcomed the group and read three picture books before being joined by JoJo the comfort dog, a specially trained, seven-year-old golden retriever from Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs.
The canine visitor was a magnet for young and old alike. Though a few children were at first hesitant to approach JoJo, others eagerly embraced the gentle dog and happily pet her. Seniors asked questions of the dog's handler and reminisced about the dogs they've known.
Like other library story times, Oaks and Acorns promotes early literacy and social connections. But this story time is unique in the way that it allows multiple generations to enjoy a shared experience. "The event brightens everyone's day with happy songs and stories, but it also provides an enriching experience for everyone involved," said Hageli. "Those who come hear stories about people whose lives are different than their own and they make new friends."
Oaks and Acorns story times are announced in the library's newsletter and website, http://www.vapld.info. Early literacy story times occur regularly throughout the year. For more information, visit http://www.vapld.info/kids/early-literacy or call 224-543-1486.
Daily Herald; February 25, 2017