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Literature is a major cornerstone of human connection. As pages are turned, we step into the minds of characters, live through their experiences and emotions that differ from ours, and, in turn, expand our empathic capabilities tenfold. Because of this, books have the unique power to connect even the most distant of generations.

Intergenerational relationships have been shown to yield multiple benefits. From increased social connections to improved mental health to enhanced cognitive functions, connections between older and younger generations are positive initiatives in any community. For Gaithersburg, Maryland, intergenerational relationships are a major focus.

Two older women sitting on chairs

This year, The Carnegie at Washingtonian Center has partnered with the Gaithersburg Book Festival, the premier book festival of Maryland that garners over 20,000 attendees annually, and Link Generations, a nonprofit organization that connects high school youth with older adults for educational purposes. Together, they launched The Intergenerational Book Club™, a program that brings together older adults and students to read, discuss, and share their generational perspectives on various books. This platform allows participants to see the world a little differently while building meaningful and lasting connections.

The partnership fosters meaningful connections between people of different ages. Through the Intergenerational Book Club, The Carnegie continues its mission of supporting and growing the arts, culture, and intellectual programming within the Gaithersburg community, Link Generations helps reduce social isolation of older adults and enhances the quality of life for both generations, and the Gaithersburg Book Festival pursues its goal of celebrating the written word and fostering interest in literary conversation.

The program provides a forum for individuals to engage in meaningful discussions about important issues, such as social justice, identity, and community. Through the shared experiences of reading and discussing books, club members are encouraged to think critically, reflect on their own values and beliefs, and then impart their points of view in a safe, open environment. The discussions that have taken place are impressive, thought-provoking, and lively. It truly warms hearts to see everyone coming together and engaging in such a positive and intellectually stimulating capacity. Ultimately, The Intergenerational Book Club™ is a testament to the power of literary tools and their ability to forge connections across generations.

A group of people at a bookclub Since the book club’s launch in 2023, it has received rave reviews among attendees, community members, and local officials. Mayor Jud Ashman and Founder and Chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival, remarked about the book club, “There’s a growing buzz in the community about this book club. I think we’re building something really special here.”

The three-part collaboration between The Carnegie at Washingtonian Center, the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and Link Generations speaks to the positive influences that these types of alliances can have on community and relationship-building.

The Intergenerational Book Club™ is a noteworthy example of how like-minded alliances can unite people of different ages and enrich lives. By creating opportunities for intergenerational connections and promoting literacy, they are crafting a stronger and more vibrant community. To become a member of our book club, sign up here.