Mobile literacy outreach program helps foster love of reading

Bess the Book Bus, a national mobile literacy outreach program, stopped in Houston recently to promote literacy and share a little story time with HISD students.

A student at Barrick ES shows off her selection. Photos courtesy Anthony Amirante.

A student at Barrick ES shows off her selection. Photos courtesy Anthony Amirante.

The bus, which makes its way across the U.S. every year, visited Barrick and Grissom Elementary schools on April 22. Jennifer Frances, the bus’ founder, read aloud to students at Grissom, and afterwards the children got to explore the bus and pick out a book to keep. More than 430 Pre-K and kindergarten students received a free book that day to start their at-home libraries.

“Many of our students come from low-income homes where books—particularly children’s books—are considered a luxury,” said HISD Literacy Director Cindy Puryear. “So it’s really exciting when children get to have a book of their very own to keep, especially when it’s one that they picked out themselves. We are very grateful to organizations like Bess the Book Bus for giving our students this experience.”

Bess the Book Bus is dedicated to sharing the joy of reading with underprivileged children. It was founded in Tampa, Fla., in 2002, and named in honor of Frances’ grandmother, Bess. The bus has traveled to all 48 contiguous states in the U.S. and is funded solely by generous donors, including CITGO Petroleum, which offsets the cost of gasoline.

In 2015, Bess the Book Bus served more than 25,000 kids in 25 states.

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