'Read to Me' Program Continues the Magic of Sharing a Book with a Child

Pictured: Roswell Park volunteer Linda Ashline, left, helps patients create a special gift for the children they love.

If you’re lucky, you have happy childhood memories of snuggling up while a parent or grandparent read you a favorite book. Maybe you’re carrying on that tradition today by reading books to a special child in your life.

But if you’re a cancer patient, those magical moments can be interrupted by a hospital stay or times when you’re not feeling well. That’s why Roswell Park’s Spiritual Care Department created the Read to Me program, which enables you to record a book on CD so a child you love can follow along on the pages while listening to you read aloud — even when you’re not at home or not feeling your best.

Roswell Park volunteer Linda Ashline has managed the program since it began five years ago. Here’s how it works:

  • The Spiritual Care Department provides a list of brand-new books, and you’re invited to choose one (or several!). Among more than 140 titles, you’ll find Green Eggs and Ham, The Velveteen Rabbit, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairytales, as well as books for older children, including Gentle Annie and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. (“If you don’t like our selection, you can bring in your own book,” says Ashline.)
  • Using a high-quality recorder, Ashline will capture your voice on CD as you read the book(s) aloud.
  • You’ll receive both the book and CD to keep, free of charge, so you can give them to a child you love.

If you’re the parent of a pediatric patient at Roswell Park, you can take part in the program, too. Ashline says the sound of your voice on the CD can be comforting if your child has to be hospitalized overnight and you’re unable to be there all the time.

If you’re bashful about reading aloud in front of other people, don’t worry — you’re not alone. “We just set the machine up, show them where the start and stop buttons are, and step outside the room,” says Ashline. “When they’re done, they push the stop button and we come back in and finish it off for them.”

To take part in the program, call the Spiritual Care Department at 716-845-8051.

Read to Me is made possible through the generosity of longtime Roswell Park supporter Phil Hubbell.

Never miss another Cancer Talk blog!

Sign up to receive our monthly Cancer Talk e-newsletter.

Sign up!