Putting the ‘mobile’ in bookmobile | VailDaily.com

Putting the ‘mobile’ in bookmobile

Abby Carlson is one of the Battle Mountain High School soccer players on hand Tuesday morning to sort the 10,000 books that will be available as part of the school district's book mobile progran.
Jeanelle Thompson|Vail Daily Photo |

Book mobile rolls

The school district’s book mobile will roll through Homestake Peak School and Avon Elementary School, Tuesday between 9 a.m. and noon; June Creek Elementary School and Berry Creek Middle School Wednesday, and Gypsum Elementary School and Eagle Valley Elementary School on Thursday.

EAGLE-VAIL — Jenna Barclay was contemplating summer differently than most of us. She’s the school district’s curriculum director, and besides all the regular summer stuff, June, July and August also bring with them the summer slide, that period when kids unlearn a bunch of what they learned.

Stopping the summer slide is a little like Sisyphus rolling his rock uphill.

How do you put books in the hands of kids from low-income homes that don’t have all that don’t have many books in them?

Like most great ideas, the school district’s book mobile is a great idea because it’s uncomplicated. You put books on a book mobile and haul them.

The operative part of the name “book mobile” is “mobile.”

It’s a First Book program, a private-sector organization that puts books in the hands of low-income kids during the summer.

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It’s all designed to combat the summer slide.

“They lose much of the gains they make during the school year, due in large part to the lack of books in the home,” Barclay said.

The theme is “Reading is My Super Power.”

“The book mobile gives super powers to kids who need them most, who need to have books in their hands, in their homes and in their communities,” Barclay said.

Ask, and you shall receive

Barclay appears to be a force of nature. So far, everything she has asked for, she has received and it did not cost taxpayers one thin dime.

For example, for her book mobile, she needed a vehicle. Barclay asked the school district’s transportation department for a bus, and they gave her one.

“It’s a retired school bus that wasn’t taking kids anywhere, and they gave it to me,” Barclay said. “It was incredible.”

Buses are filled with stuff that takes up space, like seats where kids are supposed to sit quietly, the same way you did on school bus rides. What she really needed was space.

“I asked them to take the seats out, and they did,” Barclay said.

She needed people to help convert it from a kid carrier into a book mobile. They showed up at Homestake Peak School Tuesday morning: sweeping, painting, sorting and building book-type things.

A bunch of Battle Mountain soccer players were there.

“The community has given so much to them. It’s good for them to give back,” said Dave Cope, Battle Mountain’s soccer coach, as he tried to figure out which category to put “Night of the Zombie Chickens.”

All that’s wonderful, but the bus still looks like a school bus and that will never do, because it no longer is. IGS Graphics in Edwards is creating all sorts of graphics that’ll make it look like it carries super powers, which of course it does – or soon will. The book mobile starts rolling the middle of next week.

Then she needed some books to fill the book mobile, so she asked First Book.

Faster than you can say “Sign here,” UPS delivered 10,000 books that weigh 6,000 pounds.

The bus will initially travel to the school district’s summer camp kids, then branch out in July through neighborhoods.

They’ll start making their way into neighborhoods in July, putting books into the hands of kids who need them. It’ll sound a little like an ice cream truck, only the contents will unfreeze your brain if you consume it too fast, the opposite of what happens when you consume ice cream too fast.

The book mobile will roll as long as they keep getting donations of new books, Barclay said.

“New books, high interest” Barclay said. “This will be amazing to put this in front of kids, and let them select up to 10 books of their very own to take home and keep forever and ever.”

Here’s why

Richard Allington, Ph.D., is a literacy researcher who studies this sort of thing. Allington is a professor of education at the University of Tennessee.

He’s a little appalled the federal government hasn’t been more involved in programs like this.

“What is clear is that most (80%) of the rich/poor achievement gap comes from summer setback. That is, much of the rich/poor gap accumulates during the summer months when school is not in session,” Allington wrote in “Reading Today.” “Our study demonstrated that distributing self-selected books for summer reading improved reading achievement as much as attending summer school. Ending summer setback over a three-year period improved reading achievement by roughly a half year between grades 1 and 4, the grades we studied.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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