For most parents, reading a story aloud to their children is a bond-building experience they wouldn’t trade for anything. Not everyone, though, has that opportunity. “For parents who are incarcerated, and for their children in particular, that loss of connection can take a devastating toll that could last a lifetime,” says Nick Higgins, who spearheaded TeleStory, a program at the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) to help alter this particular unhappy ending.
A few years ago, then youth services manager Katie Johnson noticed that no one from Pinewood Gardens, a subsidized housing development near the Twinsburg Public Library, was coming to story time. She reached out to the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) to ask about setting up a weekly story time at the site, home to nearly 95 low-income kids under five. The answer was yes, and Johnson partnered with AMHA employee Kellie Morehouse to create Play, Learn, & Grow, an early learning and support program, in a vacant room near the leasing office.