What is a reading circle?
It’s like a book club: participants read the texts provided by the program and come prepared to discuss their responses.
It’s like a learning circle: participants learn from each other, and from the topics and issues raised in the selected texts.
It’s a program: Each six-week session is lead by volunteer facilitators. Libraries and other organizations can use AGING BY THE BOOK to expand their offerings to older adults.
How it works:
The program supplies the texts, which are chosen to spark conversations about aspects of aging and older adulthood. Texts include fiction, memoir, poetry, and non-fiction. Participants attend the weekly 90-minute meetings, for six weeks. They discuss what they’ve read, and relate the texts to their own lives. Volunteer facilitators lead the groups.
Who comes, and why:
Typical participants range in age from their early 50s to early 80s. They are people who are curious about aging generally, and about their own aging selves in particular. Newly retired, or about-to-retire participants often want to explore their transition to a new life stage. Some participants wish to focus on their relationships with other, more senior adults in their lives (aging parents) and/or on changing relationships with adult children. Older participants offer reflections on past life stages, decisions, and events. Female participants tend to outnumber males.
Why it works:
Facilitators create a safe environment. Agreements, or ground rules include respect for confidentiality and for a diversity of opinions.
Participants have choices about disclosure. They may prefer to discuss the texts only, or the texts may prompt sharing of more personal reflections and stories.
Texts include artful expressions of issues of older adulthood. These creative expressions of our shared humanity provide insight, and touch us at deep levels.
Learning is collaborative, not top-down. This is not “a course.” It’s an opportunity for people to explore and learn from each other.