With two friendly taps of the horn, the Rockwood Book Bus pulled into the Blevins Elementary parking lot Monday afternoon, the first of more than 20 stops it will make all over Rockwood School District this week.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles
was behind the wheel, sporting an orange reflective vest and a big smile.
"There's never a bad time to open a book and read over the summer," Miles said. "Many students will take advantage of this opportunity and grab a book."
The Book Bus, in its first year, is bringing thousands of free books to district students to promote summertime reading. Funded through Title I
Parent Involvement Programs and targeting the areas around the district's eight Title I schools, the bus rolled through Eureka and Fenton on Monday and Tuesday and will make scheduled stops in Wildwood, Ballwin and Chesterfield on Wednesday and Thursday.
"I think it's great," said Rockwood parent Shawn Leffler. "My daughter loves to read, and we're picking out chapter books."
Marianne Wecker has children at Kellison Elementary
"I think this is a great program," said Wecker. "It's a great way to bring fresh books into the house this summer."
Miles is pulling driver duty all four nights, though his responsibilities also extend to helping students choose the perfect book or two to take home and read.
"What a great opportunity for him to get out and meet families in their own neighborhoods. He's all in, which is really exciting," said Dr. Stefanie Steffan, coordinator literacy K-5 and title programs. "It's so much fun for us to be out there with the kids. Seeing them find joy in picking books is really rewarding."
The idea for a Book Bus originally came from Wild Horse Elementary
librarian Brooke Schaub, and this year's reading selections cater mostly to elementary school students. But Steffan said she also included books for toddlers – so students can read to their younger siblings – and middle schoolers.
The goal is to get everybody reading, including parents.
"Don't just give your child a book: read it together, talk about it together," Steffan said. "It'll build their confidence, comprehension and fluency. We're involving parents in supporting literacy at home."