Library Connects Grandparents & Grandchildren

One of our longtime members, Margie Hatter, recently told us a wonderful story about how she was able to maintain a strong relationship with grandchildren who lived out of state using books suggested by one of our previous Children’s Librarians, and a tape recorder. We found it inspiring, and hope you will too!

When my grandchildren were young, they all lived in other states and I longed to connect with them. My daughter suggested I read stories on tape and send them in the mail. After thinking about this, I decided it would be fun. I went to the library and spoke with the Children’s Librarian who I called “Mrs. Librarian” on the tapes. She gave me wonderful suggestions of books I could read.

I bought a tape recorder and tapes with 30 minutes on each side and started this wonderful, fun, educational project. As I filled each tape, I mailed it and if the book was not finished, it added to the suspense of looking for the mailman to bring the next one.

I used sound effects when appropriate, laughed when something was funny, told stories about their parents when they were little, included my dog barking, always told them how very much I love them and how I love being their “Gomma”. I loved it!!!

These are some of the books I read:

My Side of the Mountain and Frightful’s Mountain
(They introduced one of my grandsons to a love of falcons which he retains to this day.)
Great Illustrated Classics
Encyclopedia Brown
Dr. Doolittle series
Charlotte’s Web
American Girl series

Now my grandchildren are young adults. They have made some interesting comments to me about the “Gomma Tapes.”

One wrote: ‘The book I remember best was Swiss Family Robinson (although I also loved those Dr. Doolittle books). The tapes definitely helped me learn to read. I think what they did best was to teach me that there were wonderful stories to experience in books if I could figure out how to read them. It made me want to learn how to crack them. Once I got the hang of it, I was reading constantly on my own, and I know some of my siblings did too.’

One of my other grandchildren recalled listening to them during her quiet time and going into a special space under the stairs to listen. Sometimes I sent a copy of the book so they could follow along. A third said listening to these tapes increased his love of reading, improved his vocabulary and even helped him score well on tests in school. He admitted waiting until his parents were asleep, putting on his earphones and listening to tapes into the night!

As my grandchildren are getting older and talk about the tapes, it made me realize how much they meant to them so I decided I want to share this idea with other grandparents whose grandchildren live far away.

Reading and recording these books gave me a way to connect with these precious children, share these fantastic stories, helped them to know me and how very much I love them from across the miles. It has been a fantastic experience for me and my family and I am VERY grateful for Mrs. Librarian and Thomas Ford Library for all they did to help me. I hope others will be encouraged to do the same.

Our current Head of Youth Services, Uma Nori, offered some more great suggestions to add to Mrs. Hatter’s list. If you’d like your own personalized list of reading suggestions, you can ask Uma, or any of the Youth Services staff and they would love to help you!

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (J ANGLEBERGER)
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (J STEWART)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (J LIN)
Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn (J BEARN)
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (J BENJAMIN)
A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker (E BECKER)
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (E STEIN)
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (E HIGGINS)
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Christian Stead (E STEAD)
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken by Mo Willems (E WILLEMS)

Since cassettes are not used very much anymore, grandparents who want to share stories with out-of-town grandchildren will want to use either digital recordings or CDs. Any of our Librarians in Adult, Teen or Youth Services can help you decide on the right technology for you, and get you started with your own recordings. You might already have an audio recorder app on your smartphone, or software on your home computer, but if not there are free apps and programs that you can download. You can also take advantage of the Library’s Tech Tool collection and check out a digital audio recorder, or even our GoPro camera if you’d like to record a video. For further help, we recommend our Book-A-Librarian service, in which you make a half-hour appointment with one of our skilled Librarians to receive one-on-one assistance with a variety of tasks. In addition to audio recording, you can get help with using email, doing genealogy, finding ratings and reviews for a purchase, Microsoft Office, social media, and many more research or technology related topics.

Let us know how you and your grandchildren achieve your own “happy endings!”