The Gift of GAB (Grandparents and Books)
In this article, the author discusses the Grandparents and Books project. Grandparents and Books is the brainchild of Dr. Virginia Walters, head of the Los Angeles Public Library's children services. Researching facts about Los Angeles' children in 1988, Dr. Walters found that 200,000 children, who faced coming home to an empty house after school every day, instead went to the libraries, where they had hours of free time on their hands. Walters also discovered that about one-third of the older population in Los Angeles were isolated and living alone. She then developed the Grandparents and Books program, which gives children the opportunity to learn from and get to know elders in the community, and provides elders the opportunity to benefit from the rejuvenating power of children. The State gave Walters a $100,000 grant to start a pilot program in three branches of the public library system. The program has had more than 800 volunteers who have read to 230,000 children to date. Parents frequentlycomment on how their children's grades have improved, thanks to the program. More than 200 libraries in California now take part in the Library Grandparents program.