Teachers hit road to reach readers
Rogers educators load van to deliver books for summer reading
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
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.”
Damina Mea, 8 (left), and Ronitha Bungitak, 9, look through books Tuesday provided by Tillery Elementary School in Rogers for summer reading.
Yahir Pina (left) and his mom, Veronica Esquivel, select books Tuesday. Books for adults and children are available for summer reading