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Greenspring residents share love of reading with elementary school students

September 17, 2020

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Springfield, Va. -- According to the children's literacy nonprofit Reading is Fundamental, "Books have the ability to encourage children to follow their dreams and achieve their potential. Yes, it seems incredible for a book to launch a life, but it happens every day as hungry, inquisitive young minds reach out and grab hold of the new people, places, and ideas that books bring them."

Ask any parent or grandparent and they are likely to tell you that one of their favorite activities is reading with their child or grandchild. Yet, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), only 53 percent of children ages three to five are read to daily by a family member. The NCES found that many of the children not being read to come from families with incomes below the poverty line.

Hoping to combat these sobering statistics, the Catholic Council at Greenspring, a senior living community developed and managed by Erickson Living in Springfield, Va., has donated more than 3,000 books since 2013 to students at Crestwood Elementary School, many of whom would not otherwise have their own books to read.

Despite its location in Fairfax County, one of the nation's most affluent counties, more than half the children at Crestwood Elementary come from low income families.

"The program is well supported at Greenspring for a number of reasons, one being that most of us had no idea how much poverty there is in our county," says community member Judy Molseed, who organizes the program. "What's more, we all understand the value of learning and the enjoyment of reading."

Sharing the joy

With schools all over the country making important decisions on the continuity of education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of equality of resources is an important factor. Community donations, such as those offered by Greenspring, help put valuable resources like books into the hands of students.

Just prior to the coronavirus outbreak, members of Greenspring's Catholic Council recognized the National Education Association's "Read Across America" Day, also known as Dr. Seuss's birthday, by visiting Crestwood and delivering books, Dr. Seuss pins, stickers, and bookmarks. Time was also set aside for the volunteers to read to the students.

Developed by the National Education Association, "Read Across America" is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading. Across the nation, teachers, librarians, politicians, parents, grandparents, and others develop activities to motivate kids to read and to bring the excitement of reading to children of all ages.

"We first met with the school reading program director and then went to a classroom where the books were sorted on tables by grade level," says Greenspring community member Roy O'Connor. "The children came into the room by grade with their class teachers. It was so enjoyable to see the smiling faces of the children and speak with them as they went about choosing their books. Both the students and the teachers thanked us many times."

Making ends meet

In order to provide each student with their own book, the Greenspring Catholic Council collects monetary donations during weekly masses. These donations are used to purchase books at cost from the national bookseller Scholastic Books. Crestwood Elementary staff members help select age-appropriate books for all students in prekindergarten through sixth grade. The donated books include traditional favorites, adventures, works of literature, and preteen novels.

"It's a joy to see just how much our efforts are appreciated," says Judy. "We've been making the donations for the last seven years, and it's rewarding to see just how much it has meant to the now older students. I've enjoyed hearing the older kids remark on the younger students' books, saying things like, 'Oh, I read that one, you'll love it.' It really is a wonderful program."

The generosity of the Greenspring community will go a long way in helping the children as they advance in their academic careers. According to the Educational Testing Service, the more types of reading materials available in the home, the higher the students score in reading proficiency.

"Most educators say that students who learn to read at an early age become better students, are able to comprehend, and readily learn in school," says Roy. "I believe in the importance of this concept and in helping children to learn and grow in knowledge."

To learn more about the lifestyle and community at Greenspring, please visit or call 703-913-1200.

About Greenspring: Greenspring, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 58-acre campus in Springfield, Virginia. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,000 residents and 1,000 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information can be found at

Photo: Earlier this year, Greenspring Catholic Council members Roy O'Connor and Robert Madison (seated), dressed in The Cat in the Hat hats, shared books with students at Crestwood Elementary School.

Written by Kelly A. Shue