• Melissa Rosales

Scottsbluff Seniors Read Children's Christmas Stories Online

Published for NET News-Nebraska's NPR and PBS Station

Click here to listen to the audio story.


Christmas will be a little different this year, but residents at one retirement community in western Nebraska want to read their favorite Christmas stories to children no matter what.


Rae Whitney, a resident at Northfield Retirement Communities in Scottsbluff, reads the children’s book “The Christmas Visitor” written by Anneliese Lussert and illustrated by Loek Koopmans. Whitney sits beside a Christmas tree and tells the story to a camera.


The monthlong storytelling project was organized by Kristin Wiebe, a part-time CARES Act employee at the facility. The idea came when she was getting Christmas decorations out of her basement.


“I came across the Christmas books that are in a stack in the basement that we used to read with the kids," she said. "I was just thinking about nobody reads those books anymore, and it would be fun to do something with them.”


Wiebe grabbed the books and a few from the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library where she’s a board member and worked with the retirement community. Janet Gardner, an 85 year old retired school teacher in Scottsbluff, said reading to students was her favorite thing to do as a teacher and she immediately told Wiebe she was interested in helping out.


“It helped me to really get up, get dressed, get going, in the morning, have something, you know, to look forward to to do," she said. "Because it's very easy to sit around all day in my grubbies and watch sports, but this got me up and active and out and I need something to do like that, you know, a project or something to make me feel needed.”


Wiebe said residents like Gardner enjoyed the experience and it helped them feel somehow connected to the world. Gardner encourages people to watch the videos of their story time on the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library’s Facebook page.


“I'm hoping they will do it and hoping you know it'll make their Christmas a little bit merrier," she said.

Gardner will read “Prize in the Snow” by Bill Easterling and illustrated by Mary Beth Owens on Monday, Dec. 21.