North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

School bus brings books to Arlington neighborhoods

The Arlington School District's 'Books on the Bus' program returns for a second year

 

Christopher Andersson

Mia Lopez goes through the books available in crates at the back of a decommissioned Arlington school bus on July 20 as part of the district's "Books on the Bus" program.

The Arlington School District's "Books on the Bus" is bringing a library to kids every Wednesday this summer and will continue until Aug. 24.

This is the second year for the program in which one of the district's decommissioned buses travels to various neighborhoods to bring local children an opportunity for more reading.

Many of the seats of the bus have been removed and in their place are tubs of books. Kids can check out up to three of those books and then return them the following week.

Janet Fuller, a librarian at Kent Prairie Elementary School and one of the school district volunteers who runs the program, said that "Books on the Bus" is meant to help students who have trouble getting books during the summer season.

"We had a lot of students who couldn't get to the public library and take advantage of their programs, so we are coming to them," she said.

The program is also meant to help kids avoid the "summer slump" where reading skills degrade, said Fuller.

"Kids take such a loss of their skills if they don't read during the summer, and some kids don't have any books at home, so hopefully we're filling that gap there," she said.

"It's a good idea, we need to keep [the kids] reading all summer," said local parent Wally Blake.

Books for toddlers up to the sixth-grade level are available, arranged by the same color system that the Arlington School District uses, so students will be able to find books appropriate for them.

Fuller said parents have been very supportive of the program and kids are excited to get books. A total of 168 students came out to visit during their first week out.

"There are kids who really look forward to it and come every week to make sure they get their points," said Deann VanWinkle, a bus driver from the school district and one of the program volunteers.

Points can be used at the program's end-of-summer party where students can purchase books and other prizes with them.

Christopher Andersson

Karina Blake looks at one of the books available for her to check out on July 20 as part of the Arlington School District's "Books on the Bus" program.

Volunteers with the program can also read books to kids who come out.

"It's hard to compete when you're at the park because they would rather play, but at our other locations we have cushions and we put on a story time," said Marcy Taylor, a para-educator at the school district and one of the volunteers for the program.

A Spanish-language translator with the program can also read to kids in Spanish.

"Some of our stops are nearly 100 percent Hispanic, so that really helps us connect with that community," said Fuller.

The "Books on the Bus" program drives through Arlington every Wednesday. It stops at Twin Ponds Apartment Complex from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., at Presidents Elementary from 10:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m., at Haller Park from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., at High Clover Development from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. and at the 67th Street Mobile Estates from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 

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