Bookbug for All: Intergenerational Bookbug in East Ayrshire

The first time I heard of Bookbug Sessions that were not just for families and young children was when Shetland shared their experiences of intergenerational sessions at a Bookbug Conference. It sounded great and a really worthwhile project.

All enthused after the conference, I spoke with one of my colleagues (whose remit is to develop adult audiences) to find out if she would be interested in collaborating with me on a similar project in our authority. She thought it was a fantastic idea.  

Our first concern, however, was whether any of our Bookbug Session leaders would be willing to be involved as it was such a leap from running a regular Bookbug Session. We knew that if we didn’t have any session leaders prepared to give it a try, then we wouldn’t be able to progress. Thankfully, the first two we approached were very enthusiastic and prepared to accept this new challenge – phew!

Bookbug leaders [kept] the songs and rhymes very traditional so that the older participants were familiar with them

Now we had the staff, the next step was to decide when we would hold the sessions – would it be a specially arranged session or an exisiting one? After looking at the pros and cons of both, we decided to go with an already established session as we knew that we were guaranteed to have families in attendance. The Bookbug session leader who runs this session spoke to the regular attendees about it and they were very positive.

Once we knew when, where, and how we were running it, we just needed to get the rest of our audience arranged. My colleague contacted local care homes to invite them along. The response was very positive and we managed to arrange our first intergenerational Bookbug session in February 2017. We didn’t advertise it publicly because of the vulnerable people involved – it was all done by invitation.

We wondered what our invited guests would think of Bookbug - but we needn’t have had any concerns! The first session went very well, with the Bookbug session leaders keeping the songs and rhymes very traditional so that the older participants were familiar with them. Everyone joined in and it had such a lovely community feel. After the session, we had time to chat with the families and the residents. We provided a cuppa and cake for everyone while they had a blether and got to know each other (and there were even a few more songs sung!).

To see a group of smiling faces, from very young children to elderly people, is just so special

The feedback we’ve had from all involved has been really encouraging and we’ve held more sessions since; they’ve now been affectionately named 'Golden Oldies Bookbug Sessions'. 

I would thoroughly recommend intergenerational Bookbug sessions as everyone gets so much out of them. It can be emotional, but it's very enjoyable and rewarding; to see a group of smiling faces, from very young children to elderly people, is just so special. None of our families knew the residents before these sessions started, and thanks to Bookbug, new relationships have developed. 


Generations Working Together, the national organisation promoting intergenerational work in Scotland commented: 'It’s great to see Bookbug Session Leaders engaging with intergenerational projects, and recognising the benefits for all members of the local community.'

Rosie Milligan

Rosie Milligan is a Library Programmes Officer in East Ayrshire. She is also the Bookbug Co-ordinator for her local authority.