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Out & About: Tunbridge reading program keeps different generations on the same page

  • Finn, 6, and Auden Minnucci, 4, of Tunbridge, sit with painting they and their family members created as part of the Tunbridge Public Library's Generation Connect book club. (Eliza Minnucci photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/27/2021 10:08:06 PM
Modified: 2/27/2021 10:08:03 PM

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Finn and Auden Minnucci would regularly videochat from their Tunbridge home with their grandmother Kathy in Quechee.

But 6-year-old Finn and 4-year-old Auden struggled with relating to the videochats, their mother, Eliza Minnucci, said, because they lacked the structure around a shared experience.

That changed when they signed up for the Tunbridge Public Library’s Generation Connect book club. For weeks this winter, Finn, Auden and their grandmother all read A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry together. Each time Eliza Minnucci read five chapters to the boys — and Kathy Minnucci read them on her own — they would discuss the middle-grade chapter book over FaceTime.

“It gave us something to talk about that was a shared experience,” Eliza Minnucci said. “It’s fresh in their minds, and we get on the call and they can talk about it.”

That was one of the goals of the book club that was established for Tunbridge-area residents by librarian Mariah Lawrence and funded through community grant programs. All participants receive copies of the book and an activity package. In addition to reading A Wolf Called Wander, reading partners took part in group book discussions and a remote painting class. Reading partners also communicated by letter, phone or email.

“It was really fun; it was really exciting to be able to give away all these things so no one would have to worry about bringing things back to the library,” Lawrence said. “I really wanted it to be a book that appealed to all generations, but I also wanted it to be something people might not grab on their own.”

Lawrence came up with the idea after hearing from patrons who were feeling isolated during the pandemic and unable to come into the library like they used to, including grandparents who have been unable to see their grandchildren due to restrictions. Tunbridge-area residents were encouraged to reach out to people in different generations in their lives to find partners.

“Loneliness is so real and it’s been so long,” Lawrence said. “It’s been so long since we’ve seen our people, so just being able to check on them in this different way is really important, even after COVID.”

Finn and Auden did the remote painting class inspired by the book with their grandfather, and a good time was had by all, Eliza Minnucci said. The boys looked forward to reading the book, which appealed to their grandmother.

“It was just a great structure to connect with family who they’re not able to see,” she said. “It was a really good experience. Just a genius idea for this time.”

Thirty-three people ages 7-80 signed up to read A Wolf Called Wander. The next Generation Connect selection is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin and begins in March. People do not have to have a partner to sign up: They can register as individuals and be matched with another participant. They can register by emailing tunbridgelibrary@gmail.com or calling 802-889-9404. More sessions are planned for future months.

“It meant everything to us,” Lawrence said. “It felt like exactly what libraries are meant to be. That’s what libraries are for: to look for the need, find out what the community desires and go for it.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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