Teach­ers hit road to reach read­ers

Rogers ed­u­ca­tors load van to de­liver books for sum­mer read­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAVE PEROZEK

ROGERS — Some of the School District’s ed­u­ca­tors are go­ing to new lengths to make sure their stu­dents have some­thing to read dur­ing sum­mer break.

They hit the streets in a van loaded with books, mak­ing three stops over the course of two to three hours. They en­gage any kids they can find and en­cour­age them to pick books to take home. There’s no charge for the books.

They call it “Rolling Read­ers,” an ex­panded ver­sion of a pro­gram spear­headed by North­side El­e­men­tary School read­ing teacher Dawna Rice.

Rice and some fel­low teach­ers have spent the past sev­eral sum­mers dis­tribut­ing books at the Dou­ble­tree apart­ment com­plex on Easy Street, about a mile north of the school. The com­plex is home to about 60 to 80 North­side stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to Anita Turner, the school’s prin­ci­pal.

This year the district al­lowed teach­ers to bor­row a van. They now visit the Eighth Street Mo­tel, the Frisco Stage down­town and the com­plex on Tues­day morn­ings. They try to ar­rive at the same time the food trucks do.

“We just want kids to con­tinue to read in the sum­mer,” said Sum­mer Swaim, a Tillery El­e­men­tary School read­ing teacher who’s teamed up with Rice. “We want to fos­ter that love of read­ing, and we don’t want them to lose it over the three months.”

Their first stop Tues­day was a corner of the park­ing lot at Dou­ble­tree Apart­ments.

About two dozen chil­dren and adults showed up to check out the scene, which re­sem­bled a cross be­tween a book fair and a block party. Pop mu­sic blared from a speaker the teach­ers set up. Kids blew bub­bles and chased a ball around on the ad­ja­cent play­ground. They also looked through books in crates la­beled “easy chap­ter,” “pre-K,” “non­fic­tion” and “pic­ture books.” There were books for adults as well.

Guadalupe Ray­goza walked away with about six books, in­clud­ing a copy of Char­lotte’s Web in one hand and her 15-month-old son in the other. She came out mainly to pick up books for her daugh­ter, who will be a third-grader this fall.

“I love it,” Ray­goza said of Rolling Read­ers. “This helps a lot with some of her read­ing dur­ing the sum­mer.”

Veron­ica Esquivel came with her son, a sixth-grader, and her daugh­ter, a kinder­gart­ner. She picked some books for her chil­dren and some mag­a­zines for her­self.

“I think it’s very im­por­tant to the child to keep read­ing,” Esquivel said, adding she tries to read with her daugh­ter ev­ery


The teach­ers handed out about 100 books at the three stops Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to Mon­ica Avery, the district’s fed­eral pro­grams di­rec­tor. Of­fi­cials would like to get the books back at some point, but it’s fine if they’re not re­turned.

“If we don’t get the book back, it’s in a child’s hands, and that’s our goal,” Avery said.

The Par­ent Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion paid for some of the books. In­di­vid­u­als do­nated oth­ers. The district is pay­ing for the mileage put on the van, Avery said.

Other teach­ers be­sides Rice and Swaim are giv­ing their time to the pro­gram, dur­ing a time when they’re off con­tract. Howard Har­ri­son, a phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher, showed up Tues­day to play with the kids at the

apart­ment com­plex.

Brooke Price, a fifth-grade teacher at North­side, said Rolling Read­ers rep­re­sents more than just a chance to get books to kids.

“I just love be­ing able to see their faces and re­mind them that we love them and keep them ex­cited about school, be­cause it’s such a long break and we do miss them,” Price said.

Price brought her 7-yearold daugh­ter, who’s en­ter­ing the sec­ond grade this fall at North­side. She pointed out a few of her fel­low stu­dents.

“Our school is such a fam­ily, so we know all of the kids,” Price said. “It’s neat to get to come and catch up with them.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Dam­ina Mea, 8 (left), and Ronitha Bun­gi­tak, 9, look through books Tues­day pro­vided by Tillery El­e­men­tary School in Rogers for sum­mer read­ing.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Yahir Pina (left) and his mom, Veron­ica Esquivel, se­lect books Tues­day. Books for adults and chil­dren are avail­able for sum­mer read­ing

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