LEXINGTON, Ky. — A school district here is turning some of its buses into “rolling libraries,” providing books on board to encourage a love of reading among its elementary school students.
Fayette County Public Schools kicked off the new initiative, “Books on Board,” on Wednesday, the first day of classes for the 2018-19 school year, according to an article posted on the district’s website. Dozens of volunteers rode with elementary school students and read to them.
One of those volunteers, Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers, welcomed students back to school and shared a story during the bus ride, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. (He asked the students whether they wanted him to read a book to them or to hear a story, he told the newspaper.)
The idea for the initiative came from Manny Caulk, the district’s superintendent, according to the district. He remembered how, as a child, a bus driver set out a crate of books for students, and he read “Peter’s Chair,” a 1967 picture book by Ezra Jack Keats.
“It makes the bus not just a ride to school, but a learning environment,” Caulk said in the article. “Falling in love with great books doesn’t happen just in the classroom. The child’s first learning environment is stepping on that bus.”
The district bought 8,000 books for the program, which is being rolled out district-wide, through McGraw-Hill Education’s Wonders curriculum resources. That will allow for about 30 books for each of the district’s general-education buses and 12 on buses that transport special-needs students. The books target kindergartners through fifth-graders, and cover topics such as science, social studies, and history.
Transportation department staff members outfitted each school bus that transports elementary-school students with a pouch on the back of the driver’s seat and placed books inside it. When students board, the driver will invite them to borrow a book and to return it when they exit.
School bus driver Randall Cottongim told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the initiative will help the students with longer rides in the morning fit more reading into their day.
Kate McAnelly, the district’s chief academic officer, said in the article that if there is sufficient interest, the district will replenish the supply of books and may also buy magazines for middle-school and high-school students.
Caulk said that when he was a student, reading on the bus curbed some mischief on long rides and helped students settle down in preparation for the school day, according to the district’s article.
“It sets great habits,” he said. “We’re hoping these students fall in love with reading as I did.”
Below is a Facebook post that the district shared from Guide Realty, one of the businesses that had staff members volunteer to ride the buses and read to students.