Were you to find yourself at Lent Rise House in Burnham on a Tuesday afternoons in 2013, you might have seen a group of eight-year-olds from neighbouring Lent Rise School in their red school uniforms, carrying books and reading journals, as they arrived for their weekly reading time with Lent Rise House’s older residents. They were taking part in Book Buddies, an intergenerational and literacy-focused pilot programme developed by Art Beyond Belief and funded by Buckinghamshire Community Foundation.

The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading

David Bailey

Each week the children, and their designated Buddy resident at Lent Rise House sat together for an hour to read, catch up and take part in book-based activities. Says Emma Herrod, who managed the project for Art Beyond Belief; “The aim of Book Buddies was to bring together two generations of local people through a love of books. During the weekly sessions, the children got invaluable help with their reading, and the residents of Lent Rise House had the opportunity to mentor a young member of the community”.

Book Buddies takes place in a relaxed environment, although content and structure of the sessions are carefully planned. The activities are put together to encourage interaction, and to give children the opportunity to appreciate and respect what the older generation has to offer in terms of experience and skills.

The children and parents have responded very enthusiastically to this new project, which has enabled children to engage with older people and to increase their own confidence in reading. The children have enjoyed sharing books and reading for pleasure; and we hope this will build into a love of books that lasts a lifetime.

Jill Watson, Head of Lent Rise School


It is wonderful to be able to bring the community inside Lent Rise House. The residents really enjoy it.

Cheryl Haines, Activity Coordinator at Lent Rise House


I can already hear how much her reading has improved, just in these few weeks. She’s a lovely girl.

Pam (Lent Rise House resident)


He is reading longer words now and asking me questions about things.

Daphne (Lent Rise House resident)

The core activity of the programme was reading, and this often led to other activities towards the end of the session – such as this impromptu carpet bowling session.

The children created artwork as part of some sessions, working with their older buddy. There were many positive conversations between young and old – about schooldays, careers, interests and family.

Reading journals created by the children during the Book Buddies programme.