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Wagonloads of books hit streets as Lexington school’s summer reading program flourishes


Wagons of books are restocked each week so children have new titles to consider. They can exchange the previously borrowed books or keep them if they prefer. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

Wagons of books are restocked each week so children who live near Booker T. Washington Academy in Lexington have new titles to consider. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

 
By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward
 

Children who live near Booker T. Washington Intermediate Academy in Lexington dash outside when they hear the honking horn, but it’s not for the ice cream truck – it’s the school’s mobile library. The Beep Beep Summer Reading Program is designed to put books in children’s hands while school’s out.
 

“A lot of our kids don’t have access to go to the (public) library, so we decided to bring it to them,” said Michelle Tudor, a staffer at the school. “We want to keep our kids reading through the summer.”
 

"Just to get a book in a kid's hand and the kid reading, that's how you get the love," said Principal Wendy Avilla. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

“Just to get a book in a kid’s hand and the kid reading, that’s how you get the love,” said Principal Wendy Avilla. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

After third-grade teacher Correy Gannon heard about Beep Beep Reading at a conference, the Booker T. staff was eager to try it in Lexington. So on Mondays from mid-June through July, Principal Wendy Avila, a couple of teachers and staff members, and PTA President Rolanda Woolfork walk the neighborhood, pulling red wagons filled with books. More than 1,000 were donated for this project, including titles for adults and gently used magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens.
 

Cagney Coomer, founder of the Nerd Squad, a local nonprofit that promotes interactive STEM activities (science, technology, engineering, math), happened to be climbing into her car as the Booker T. group passed by recently. She praised the Beep Beep initiative for offering children a variety. “Why not find books that spark their interest? This gives them an opportunity to make their own picks,” she noted.
 

Woolfork led the way with a squeeze horn in hand as the group rolled up and down several streets across Georgetown from Douglass Park for about an hour-and-a-half. They greeted residents sitting on front porches, invited folks to select books for their grandchildren, and encouraged school-age youngsters to choose among titles on their reading level and take as many as they wanted. “Some of them really enjoy reading, and one book wouldn’t last them a whole week,” Woolfork said.
 

Each Monday, Woolfork restocks the wagons so the children have new options to consider. They can exchange the previously borrowed books or keep them if they’d prefer. And at the end of the month, each participating youngster will receive a brand new book courtesy of the North Lexington Family YMCA.
 

The Beep Beep crew helps youngsters pick out books on their reading level.

The Beep Beep crew helps youngsters pick out books on their reading level. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

This outreach project not only distributes free books but also gives the Booker T. Washington staff a chance to remind parents about kindergarten registration and to talk up other programs at their school. “The relationship with our families doesn’t stop in summer – it continues throughout the school year,” Woolfork explained. “We want our community to read, and we want to let them know we’re here for them,” she added.
 

Beep Beep Reading has been well-received and has spurred prospects of new volunteers once students are back in class this fall.
 

“More community members are now ready to come into our school to read to kids,” Woolfork said. “They’re excited and thanking us for helping our kids improve.”
 

Tammy L. Lane is a media and communications specialist with the Fayette County Public Schools.


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