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Madison Literacy Bus promotes reading for elementary school students during summer break

windows with lettering for grade level and reading
KIFI/Braydon Wilson
Books under the bench seat on the 'Book Bus"
KIFI/Braydon Wilson

REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI) - For the about the past five years, the Madison School District has found a creative way to ensure their elementary school students have a way to get books in their hands during the summer.

On every weekday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Madison Middle School located at 575 W 7th S, Rexburg, each child who comes to the school will see a school bus. Except this isn't no ordinary school bus.

Inside the bus there are benches that lift open to have hundreds of age appropriate books leveled out to each kids reading level. Each child will have the chance to walk away with three brand new or gently used books with a new magazine they will be able to keep.

Heather Castillow, one of the districts instructional coaches, says it all started thanks to a need they saw in the area.

"We saw a need for our children to have four books in their homes and in their hands during the summer. Months, and so we decided to provide that so they could come on the bus, choose one of one that they like, and take it home with them and keep it," Castillow said.

Castillow also says the books really help the students keep their reading goals and improve before the next school year.

"We have levels from a preschool level up through a sixth and seventh grade level nonfiction fiction and we have readers that focus on more on vocabulary," Castillow said. "We have some readers that are easier readers and children who are struggling. Reading can still pick up and read. It just depends on what they would like to read. They have a whole bunch of different genres and different choices that they could have this year."

"We also added some magazines in there so the kids can grab a magazine that have different articles," Beth Martinez, a first grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School said.

Castillow invites the whole community to come to the 'Book Bus' and let their kids enjoy receiving their brand new books.

"Bring your children down here, have a count, have them come for free, a free lunch, and then get three books," Castillow said. "They can choose three books in the magazine every day and just come and grab it and read and enjoy them."

Allison Rowe's kids use the school bus.

"We love this program," Rowe said. "They love coming in and just grabbing a new book because they have all different types of books in there, and it's something that they can do during the summertime. And my one daughter, she loves finding books about animals and then they go home and they act out animals that they read about, or they go in and do more research about that animal."

Rowe adds the new books allow for her family to enjoy some bonding time.

"I love to read myself. And so having my kids love to read that is definitely something we love to do together. And my husband, that's a big advocate on kids reading and parents are into their kids. And we also love it that they get to read their books with us. They read them to us. And that's just a fun time," she said.

Castillow also said if you have any used books you wish to donate to the district and the book bus you "can bring them to the district office if they're just gently use most of our books on here are new books that summer, and we do have some generally used. If we can give it to another child and have them enjoy it, that would be great."

Unfortunately, the bus won't last the entirety of the summer break.

"We do it every summer through the month of June. And when the kids can come out and enjoy and grab these books and read out right away," Martinez said.

While the bus won't last all summer, it will still be available to every elementary school kid now till the month of June is over.

Article Topic Follows: Rexburg
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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.

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