Big Read Machine count: 1,200 books to 200 readers

That big red and white school bus around Vicksburg this summer was the Big Read Machine, sharing summer reading options with youth throughout the Vicksburg Community Schools district.

The Big Read Machine is a bookmobile – a free mobile library for area youth to check out and return books. Kids do not have to be Vicksburg Community Schools students to use the bus, which follows a schedule, parking at key locations throughout the district. This last summer, the Big Read Machine circulated over 1,200 books to over 200 area youth.

Inspired by Vicksburg Community Schools administration, this project was undertaken by the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation (VCSF). Donations of time, money, materials and of course books made the Big Read Machine a reality.

Volunteers staff the Machine. They include VCSF trustees, a librarian, a bus driver, and several Vicksburg High School students in the National Honor Society.

One volunteer recalled several comments from visiting youth:

“This is Heaven!”

“Reading Makes You Stronger!”

“I’m lucky because I have three libraries: The Vicksburg (District) Library, my school library, and the bus library.”

The Big Read Machine schedule, with locations and times, is managed by Bob Willhite, VCSF trustee. Ideas are welcomed to help the literacy project reach as many area kids as possible during the summer. Suggestions can be sent via email to ra.bob.willhite@gmail.com.

While many may wish to donate books, at present the catalog is nearly full. Throughout the summer, kids suggested books that the Big Read Machine does not have, so the team is building a shopping list to improve the book supply. To help with future needs, the group asks that those wishing to help consider a cash donation to the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, and note that the contribution is for the Big Read Machine.

The Machine’s organizers thanked foundation trustees, donors, bus drivers, volunteers and all of the kids and families that visited during the summer.

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