Thursday, June 18, 2009

Local Journalist Creates a Library Program

It all began with Sadie, a former shelter dog turned therapy dog who visits senior care homes. My family and I read children's books aloud and Sadie's friends share their favorite memories which are documented in a scrapbook that my daughter Beth creates. That led me, a former report for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and curriculum writer for the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, to start a web site which features activity pages and ideas for multi-generational library story times. I got my husband and a good friend to help and we created RUFF Writers.

One of the reasons we created RUFF Writers was to help older family members connect with young children in meaningful ways while sharing quality children’s literature and family stories as they read, talk, laugh, cook, create crafts, or solve puzzles.

Pa, as everyone called my father, came to live with us during the final stages of his cancer illness. During that time we read many children’s books with our youngest child, Beth, who was 8-years-old at the time. We discovered special books that three generations could enjoy together, as we “harvested” Pa’s memories following stories or while we shared family pictures.

One day I discovered a faded print Dad took of his family’s pet. “What was your dog’s name?” I asked. Pa couldn’t remember. It hit me that I can rattle off the names of every pet--including the gerbils--that our family has ever had. But someday, perhaps I might be ravaged by the storms of life, too, and not even recall Sadie’s name.

Then the realization really hit that I am SURE Dad had told me about his dog when I was a child, while we were playing with Ginger, our Cocker Spaniel. In the quiet moments that have come since my father’s death, I can almost remember him telling me about a dog named Brownie. But that memory was never written down, so I’m not sure if it is real or not.

Through “RUFF Times” families will have an opportunity to collect memories gathered together to pass on to a future generation about the people who would have loved them. RUFF Times are when we appreciate the people—and animals—in our lives. To contact Jane, you can reach her at 412-849-5574 or by email: If you- or your dog- have a favorite story or book you would like to recommend, you can write to Sadie: The journal RUFF Times which has Sadie's dog's-eye view of favorite picture books, recipes, jokes and pages for journaling could serve as a fundraiser for libraries.

More details available on at Ruff Writers. Tune in Friday for part II!

--Jane Miller