SAN ANTONIO — Students can tap into a digital library while riding the school bus in a new pilot program at San Antonio Independent School District (ISD).
The “Rolling Readers” program kicked off on Monday and is slated to run through May. It’s a collaboration between San Antonio ISD and BiblioTech, which is Bexar County’s all-digital public library.
For the program, seven school buses are equipped with Wi-Fi routers and other equipment, enabling passengers to download books. BiblioTech’s cloudLibrary app provides access to some 40,000 e-books and audio books. If needed, students can check out digital devices from BiblioTech’s three physical locations.
Also, school bus drivers in the “Rolling Readers” program can play audio books throughout the bus using Kindle Fire reading devices, which has reportedly been a popular feature among students and drivers alike.
“One of the bus drivers … has already started playing the audio books on the bus, and one of her students boarded the bus this morning and remembered exactly what chapter they left off at yesterday,” Nathan Graf, senior executive director of transportation and vehicle maintenance for San Antonio ISD, told SBF. “Another driver reported that the students have been very quiet on the bus as they listen to the books.”
The school bus drivers serve as “reading captains,” encouraging students to participate in the program and giving out monthly reading prizes. The drivers can even dress up and decorate their bus to tie in with monthly reading themes, which will include such topics as sports, superheroes, science fiction, pets, and music.
“A key tenet of BiblioTech's mission is to promote reading as recreation. Rolling Readers is an ideal way for BiblioTech to live its mission,” BiblioTech Administrator Laura Cole said in a press release. “The bus ride is the first experience of the school day — we want kids to have a positive, fun experience so that when they arrive, they are in a good state of mind, ready to learn.”
The seven buses equipped for the “Rolling Readers” program will rotate, covering each of San Antonio ISD’s schools at some point during the 2017-18 school year, according to the district.
Watch a video about the "Rolling Readers" program below.