CHASE AND ZOE OSBORN pose with books on a bus outside Dike Newell School in Bath. A new Books on the Bus program provides reading material for elementary-age kids while on Regional School Unit 1 buses.

CHASE AND ZOE OSBORN pose with books on a bus outside Dike Newell School in Bath. A new Books on the Bus program provides reading material for elementary-age kids while on Regional School Unit 1 buses.

BATH

A new program is helping get books in the hands of children where they know they can reach them — on the bus to school.

Led by Patten Free Library, the Books on the Bus program aims to get books on all of the buses serving Regional School Unit 1 elementary schools.

DIKE NEWELL SCHOOL students Kalea Jones and Marion Fortier pose with books.

DIKE NEWELL SCHOOL students Kalea Jones and Marion Fortier pose with books.

“In a nutshell, we are really, really thrilled about the whole program. We’re actually calling it BOB — the BOB program,” said Carol McFadden, head of children’s services at Patten Free Library.

With financial support from the community, volunteer labor and donated books, the library is purchasing seat covers for Bath buses with pockets to hold children’s books. That way every RSU 1 student, ages 5-9, has easy access to books.

“There’s no excuse now in our community for kids not to read,” said McFadden. “Money should not be a problem. If the parents can’t afford a book, there’ll be some books coming into their home.”

The books are provided entirely free to the students with no strings attached. These aren’t loans.

“There’s nothing like ownership to respect something. It empowers children to have their own little shelf at home — be it a milk crate shelf or even a pile up on the floor of their room,” said McFadden. “It’s something that says to a child: That’s mine.”

Advertisement

She said the program was initiated by Sheryl Ritchie, who sits on the Bath Elementary PTA. Ritchie said she approached McFadden with the idea after being inspired by a similar program in Topsham.

“I think it was about two or three years ago, I remember reading a story about Don Sanders, who was the bus driver in Topsham who started a similar program,” said Ritchie. “I thought that was just such a fabulous idea. You have a focused activity for kids to do on the bus that keeps them calm and it’s non-electronic.

“The collaboration was instant,” she added. “We were both enthusiastic about it and just started working together right away.”

So far, parents have embraced the program wholeheartedly, said Ritchie.

“It’s just been overwhelming the positive feedback we’ve gotten,” she said.

The Books on the Bus program is still seeking financial support as well as book donations.

Advertisement

“The goal is $4,000,” said McFadden. “It costs about $70 per seat. So we’re trying to cover all of them.”

The program has already received some grants. The immediate goal is to provide covers for all seven Bath buses serving elementary schools by the start of the next year.

“We’re hoping between those and some additional fundraising we’ll be able to get seat covers on the remainder of the Bath buses by the start of school in the fall,” said Ritchie. “Then, eventually expanding to the remainder of the RSU 1 buses.”

The program is also seeking book donations. Books should be targeted at students ages 5- 9 and be in good condition. Book donations can be dropped off at Patten Free Library.

[email protected]timesrecord.com


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: