At the tender age of seven, Maggie Kuznia finds joy not just in reading books but in sharing the tales with others. Once or twice within a week, she tucks a selection of books into her rucksack, gearing up for her visits to the aged inhabitants at Good Samaritan Society — Heritage Grove Senior Living in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.
Her practice of reading to the elders has not only bolstered her confidence in her oral reading skills but has also introduced her to numerous new friends who keenly await the arrival of the diminutive raconteur.
This endearing routine took root during an unexpected snow day. Tiffany Kuznia, Maggie’s mother and the activity coordinator at the senior center, usually has Maggie accompany her to work. When Maggie was organizing her backpack, Kuznia suggested she bring along her Nintendo Switch. But Maggie had envisioned a different agenda for that day.
As time passed, Maggie’s presence became a highlight for the residents, earning her a group of “regulars” to whom she reads weekly. Her visits often extend past an hour, with her mother periodically ensuring she’s not imposing. The seniors are more than welcoming of Maggie’s extended company.
Their sessions often progress from reading to engaging in coloring and puzzle activities, with the seniors growing to view Maggie as a surrogate granddaughter.
One of the seniors Maggie has charmed is Patti Griggs, a former elementary school educator. Aiming to stretch Maggie’s reading skills even more, Griggs presented her with a book that posed a potential challenge. Maggie, however, read it effortlessly. Now, fueled by their shared literary journey, they’re embarking on a new creative venture: co-authoring a book.
Maggie aspires to set an example for her peers, encouraging them to read to older generations. Besides honing her own reading prowess and enjoying the attention of a dedicated audience, her older companions are always at the ready to assist with unfamiliar words. For the residents, Maggie’s visits are a highlight, bringing a spark of joy to their days.