The Big Read Machine

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The Lakeland Reformed Church’s Creative Beginnings pre-school class hosted the Big Read Machine during one of their special celebration day events in May.

By Sue Moore

There is nothing more satisfying for a child on summer break than to cozy up with a good book on a warm summer day, according to members of the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation board. Thus, this funding organization in support of the school district, has taken it upon themselves to make sure children have that good book always at the ready over the summer break.

The Big Read Bookmobile will be plying the roads in the school district two days a week to deliver reading materials to children at Tobey, Indian Lake and Sunset schools on a regular basis. The existence of the bookmobile was a dream of former Superintendent, Charlie Glaes before he retired and has been seen to fruition by current Superintendent, Keevin O’Neill.

Letters went out to service clubs, individuals and past donors to the school foundation to raise funds to buy books, paint and equip a school bus that was owned by the district. That has resulted in $21,000 in donations to get the wheels rolling literally, Willhite said. This effort has been helped by Frederick Construction’s donation of labor and materials to outfit the interior of the bus to hold the books in place as it tootles down the road.
All of this effort goes toward keeping children from what is commonly known as the “summer slide’, where they forget some parts of what they learned throughout the year and that it takes several weeks, even months when they come back to school in the fall to catch up.

Testing has typically shown a summer slide of a grade level or more if students don’t have access to books for almost three months, O’Neill pointed out. “This project was a big step for the Foundation to undertake as it meant going out to raise the funds, rather than experience donors coming forward in support of the Foundation. It has typically relied upon individual donations for scholarships and small fundraisers such as the Duck Derby for Old Car festival and the Hearty Hustle sponsorship.

When parents see the Big Read Machine pull into schools’ parking lots the hope is children will board the bus, pick out the books they want to check out, go home to read and bring them back on the next stop or even keep them until school begins in the fall. Their school ID will be their check out with a reader that will be aboard the bus to help with this. Home school children will be invited to utilize the bookmobile and be assigned a number in the school system.

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