School districts in Texas are reaching out to underserved students in “book deserts” to provide access to books and other services.
A “book desert” is defined as a geographic location where printed books and other reading material are difficult to access, often due to a lack of transportation. It can also be defined as a lack of books in a home.
Book deserts are often linked to low-income communities, and the summer months may disconnect students in those communities from their most readily accessible source of books, their schools. Several Texas school districts, in an effort to get books into the hands of as many students and families as possible, are taking the books on the road.
Castleberry ISD offers its Books and Bytes program, using a refurbished old school bus to bring books and connectivity capabilities to disadvantaged neighborhoods in the district. The vision of the program includes providing access to print and digital resources, equipping families with tools to build their child’s early literacy skills, and inspiring life-long reading by exposing families to a variety of literature. The program is funded through donations and grants, and they have also partnered with the Welman Project to obtain books that would otherwise be sent to the landfill.
Arlington ISD is also taking its library on the road. The district’s library media services department, through a grant from the AISD Education Foundation, is offering free books through its Arlo bookmobile on Saturday, July 10, and Saturday, July 24. The district is excited about the opportunity to provide pre-K through 12th grade students with access to free, brand-new books that they can read and share with their families.
Bryan ISD is another district reaching out to provide students access to reading resources. Students at Rudder High School transformed an old bus into a mobile library, and this summer, that mobile library will be traveling across the district. “Words on Wheels” was unveiled in late June, taking reading on the road with the goal of getting books into the hands of as many students as possible.