Camas School District’s Book MoBus kicks off summer reading program

Kamas – More than 20 children ran around Helen Baller Elementary School Wednesday morning, soaking in the sun and playing a game of cards, some with arms out of books. This was the first day of summer MoBus book for the Camas School District, serving children from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Jennifer Scott, an area literacy facilitator and author of the Summer MoBus Book of the Book, welcomed families and placed them around outdoor tables and a Kona snow truck parked near the event. Playing cheerful music remotely.

Scott said she started Book MoBus to keep kids reading during the summer when school libraries are closed. Book MoBus offers reading incentives, such as bingo books, shaved ice for a warm summer day, cookies and even a visit to the Camas-Washougal fire department.

“Community building is what families really value,” Scott said. “This is a passionate project to discover how we can bring books and our community together over the summer.”

MoBus originated in 2019 with a school district truck. But since 2021, the program has used a real local school bus. With the help of some local grants, Scott said, the program has been able to meet more student book requests.

Books on the bus have a sticker that reads “Please refer to Camas Book MoBus” to encourage students to return books, even though it is an informal rental system. Scott said the program is still receiving returns from last summer and is convenient so students and families don’t feel pressured and will continue to rent books. Since Book MoBus is a partnership with the Camas Public Library, families can bring them back to either location.

“We’re just trying to make them feel inspired to come back,” Scott said. “Make them read. This is the most important piece.”

Shiny new books line the bus, organized into boxes by themes and series, like “Origami Yoda” or “Fun Fiction.” John Anzalone, the incoming Camas School District superintendent, picked up his child’s favorite, Dinosaurs Love Underpants, to read to the students later that day.

Anzalone said the MoBus book reminded him of his school mobile phone in Brooklyn, New York, who also rented books out to students. He said he appreciates the Book MoBus innovation and feels that having access to books during the summer is important.

“I think it’s ideal for the size of our community, to where I think it will provide access to children and families who may not have access,” Anzalone said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get to the library. Parents work sometimes. Sometimes the kids have to be home during the day to see their siblings or family members. And so I think this is a great way to bring books to the kids instead of the kids going to the books.”

Ada Dalton, an 8-year-old student at the event, said she also used Book MoBus last year. She chose “The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors” and a more informative book about baseball, Ada’s favorite sport.

“I like tricky words,” Ada said. “And I just got into the more difficult chapter books.”

Parents are also grateful for the programme. Chelsea Curley, a mother of three, said she loves the show’s events organized by MoBus writers while things slow down in the summer.

“We were really impressed with the variety and amount of books they have this year,” Curley said. “And anything would be loved to promote literacy.”

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