I can remember the wonder I felt when I saw the library’s bookmobile for the first time. I was with my mother outside of Big Star, which is now Piggly Wiggly at the Kinston Plaza. Before the grocery store’s sliding glass doors opened, I could hear an ongoing humming sound pervade the air. This made me curious.
From years of conditioning, I knew to stick close to my mother’s side when we crossed the street to reach the parking lot. As we approached the edge of the sidewalk, I could see a bus. A huge bus filled with books was the cause of that alluring hum which called out to me from outside the store.
As we walked to our car, I was able to peek inside of the bus to see books which seemed to go on forever lining its walls. I wanted to read every one of them. The metal steps, with their bubbled grip pattern, looked too high off the ground for me to be able to climb without help, but I was willing to try. Somehow I knew magical worlds and adventure far beyond Kinston awaited me just inside the backdoor. I wanted to go wherever they would take me.
By the time I had children of my own there were no bookmobiles in Kinston; so I took my children to the library as much as I could. I was always a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to share a bookmobile experience with them. They are grown up now, but this summer I will be able to participate in bringing that same magic and wonder to children who live in various communities in Kinston.
The Neuse Regional Libraries, in partnership with the Kinston Housing Authorities, will offer the Reading Colors Your World Bookmobile Summer Reading Program to students who live in Mitchell B. Wooten, Simon Bright, Carver Court, and Jack Rountree apartments. The program is meant to give students who may not have means of transportation to the library a way to participate in summer reading within walking distance of their home.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to partner with the library to bring the Bookmobile to our children, because the Bookmobile will encourage summer reading, help maintain reading skills, and provide a fun summer activity,” says Rhonda Abbott, Director of Kinston Housing Authority.
Each Monday the bookmobile will visit each of those communities to allow students to check out books and accumulate reading points, leading to level prizes. Each level reached will bring them closer to winning a grand prize like a Razor Scooter or Razor helmet, wireless earbuds, marble run games, Picasso Tiles, or various Lego sets.
“It’s important that all students be able to participate in a summer reading program and have access to reading materials. It’s a pleasure to bring this service to them,” says Amber Hargett, Head of Youth Services for the Neuse Regional Libraries. “Students in these communities will be able to engage in boredom-busting STEM activities or grab a take-and-make kit for use at home later. The best part for me will be handing out Freeze Pops for them to enjoy on a hot summer day while they check out books.”
Though the library’s goal is for students to have fun while reading books over the summer, there is also an underlying intent to help bridge the reading gap that often develops over summer months.
“Summer Reading Programs can help close the achievement gap that has been attributed, at least in part, to cumulative learning loss during the summers known as the “summer slide” and that has been shown to be steeper for low-income students than for others,” states Melanie Morgan, Director of Libraries. “Therefore, access to books and engaging programming is critical for success. Studies show when children select reading materials themselves and read for enjoyment, they receive the most gains in reading achievement, including better reading comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling. Additionally, parents, caregivers, and other adults can help stem “summer slide” by reading themselves, and encouraging the children in their lives to read also.”
To make this fun opportunity seamless, parents or students will be able to register online for the Reading Colors Your World Bookmobile Summer Reading Program from our website or register in person when the bookmobile arrives in their community. Downloading a mobile app will allow parents and all super readers to track their progress in reaching reading goals or levels. As the reading levels are met, readers will receive a certificate and a level prize of their choice.
Summer reading programs are wonderful ways to cultivate a love for reading. I can only hope that one day one of these readers will recall the wonder he or she felt the first time they saw the library’s bookmobile just as I did outside the Big Star years ago.
The Reading Colors Your World Bookmobile will visit the Kinston Housing Authority communities each Monday from June 14th through August 9th. For more information, visit our website at www.neuselibrary.org or call 252-527-7066 ext 133.