Reading Renewed through Northshore’s New Books on the Bus Program

students carrying their bag of library books

The books on the bus go ‘round Northshore, ‘round Northshore, ‘round Northshore. The books on the bus go ‘round Northshore, all through the town. 

Over the last month this story has come to life as thousands of books have been delivered to Northshore students thanks to the District’s newly launched Books on the Bus Program, which allows families to preorder books -- fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels and more -- and have them delivered to a nearby bus stop or pick them up curbside at their school. 

This inspiring program has been made possible by an idea from Northshore’s school librarians, some of whom worked closely with School Board Director Sandy Hayes, who has led a book distribution initiative out of her garage since the pandemic closed libraries in the spring. Their passion for reading and literature sparked the idea and then many others helped make it a reality including the District’s Transportation Department, Food Services staff, Support Services staff, volunteers and more.

Volunteer retrieving a student's book order

Crystal Springs Librarian Colette Weber shared on a recent segment of Northshore Learns News, “I had a fourth grade student send me a message on Schoology and he said Mrs. Weber, thank you so much for the books. He said I was doubtful when I first received them because I didn't know these titles. But I started and now I can't stop reading them.”

This fourth grader is one of many who have shared their overwhelming support and appreciation for this program. In the first two weeks of the program, more than 50% of students who ordered books the first week, chose to order books again the second week. To date, nearly 6,300 students have been served. The number of books distributed is staggering, as each student receives 3-5 books and every school with a library has participated.

Abigail Sandrigo picked up books with her fifth grade son David for the first time three weeks ago. 

“I have a bunch of books (at home), but I think it’s not enough to encourage him to read more,” said Sandrigo. She’s noticed how recently it’s easy for children to get distracted and she thinks getting books from the library will help keep her student’s attention.

David shared that he was excited to receive the books. He completed the form from his school and asked them to select books for him. He likes all genres so he said he was fine with any book he receives. He anticipated that he would read the books both for fun and to support his learning.

When asked if they’d recommend this program to others, Abigail said, “Definitely. It looks interesting because books are available every week.”

Mother and son collecting books near Maywood Hills Elementary

Another mom, Jaime Jordan, picked up books with her kindergartener Arlo and third grader Isla. This wasn’t the Jordan’s first time though -- they were returning the books they had already enjoyed. 

“It’s been great, it’s been awesome,” said Jaime who also volunteers at a stop to help distribute the books to other families. 

Arlo requested a surprise pack of books, and Isla requested more Ranger in Time books since she liked the other Ranger in Time books so much. 

When asked why Jaime volunteered to support this effort she said, “I just think it’s an awesome way to support kids reading and I know they need help with it.” 

Reading is essential to student success. In fact, Director Hayes recently shared on Northshore Learns News that, “There are studies that show just having books in the home closes the reading gap. It helps all of the issues that we're fighting right now - a book can solve it. It can teach kids empathy. There are studies that show mental health, it slows the brain down if you turn off the device and pull out a book. It calms your brain. It's almost like meditating. There are so many issues that we're facing in terms of understanding each other and that human connection and feeling isolated, can be solved by jumping into a book.”

Bus drivers loading boxes of books onto a bus

After a busy day of delivering books to students, Dave Shogren, a bus driver for Northshore took pen to paper to reflect on the impact of access to books through Northshore’s Books on the Bus program.

“Books to Read”     

It seems so simple, don’t you know, books tell stories of the world we know.
Today is different for we can’t see, a story stating our future for you and me.
We made an effort to bring some light, you see we gathered books to help kids fight.
To fight the boredom of being home.
To fight the emptiness found being alone.
Life is precious and safety is key
When we can return to gathering everybody and me.
Our teachers are working to help us learn.
The librarians have struggled to also help us turn.
To turn a page, to read a book, to expand our horizons, to change the story, and show us an end.
There will be life upon Covid’s END.  

To preorder books, families should visit their school’s library page or connect directly with their school’s librarian.

 

 

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