“This idea hits a lot of notes for us,” said Barbee. “The kids still get to select books, and they’re building personal libraries, which is critical to getting kids to read on their own. We’re really excited about the whole program.”
So are the students. Since launching earlier this month, about 9,000 books have been given away, and the events are drawing an average of 400 people. And it’s not just the youngest readers who are showing up.
“We’ve been very pleasantly surprised to see more middle and high schoolers than expected,” said Barbee. “And the numbers are higher than expected. They’ve blown us away.”
About 60,000 new books were purchased for the giveaway. The project was made possible from year-round fundraising efforts and by shifting monies from media services and curriculum programs. Drivers were hired to take the two repurposed school buses to the sites where volunteers put up tables in the bus lanes, direct traffic and help kids make selections from a range of genres.
“It’s set up so you stay in the car until you get out to pick your books,” said Barbee. “Each child can pick two. And if there’s a child in a car seat, we give them two books, too.”
The schedule includes two stops each day and covers the county’s 29 middle schools where any student in that school cluster can come by. After those stops have been made, the mobiles will continue to visit specific neighborhoods.
“It’s been a 100% positive experience, even with people waiting in their cars for 30 minutes or more,” said Barbee. “I think they’re glad to have something to do with their kids. For the workers, they’ve been so excited to see the children again and connect them with a good book. It’s been only wins.”
A complete schedule of the book mobile stops is online at gcpsbookmobile.org.
SEND US YOUR STORIES.
Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at email@example.com or 770-744-3042.