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BTCS Launches New Book Bus Design
BTCS Launches New Book Bus Design
Posted on 04/05/2022
Book Bus Launch

On April 7, Bristol Tennessee City Schools, in partnership with Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF), announced the launch of a newly designed BTCS Book Bus that will bring books and literacy resources to neighborhoods in Bristol, Tennessee. Bristol is one of 15 school districts in Tennessee that was awarded Book Bus grant funding from GELF last spring. The new bus will begin traveling in June 2022.

“I am delighted to introduce our community to the new and improved Bristol Tennessee City Schools Book Bus,” said Kay Ward, Bristol Tennessee City Schools family and community engagement coordinator. “Thanks to a Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation Accelerate Grant, a variety of community partners, and an on-going partnership with Bristol Public Library, the newly wrapped Book Bus will provide an attention-getting opportunity to introduce the love of reading to children and to discover the benefits of lifelong learning!”

Ms. Ward shared with the group at the launch that the BTCS Book Bus is entering its sixth summer of operation. The project began with a request to the Bristol Public Library to help organize a summer mobile library serving students in low-income areas of the city. The first summer the BTCS Book Bus served 24 unduplicated children. Last summer the bus served 786 children.

Through GELF’s Book Bus program, partnering school districts retrofit a decommissioned school bus to house books and literacy resources, creating a learning space for children and families to enjoy. The buses travel to under-resourced neighborhoods over the summer, and educators lead reading workshops and provide families with resources and books.

Studies show that ensuring students are reading on grade level by third grade is a critical factor in determining future success in academics and life. Research also shows that two to three months of reading proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer, causing a student to be behind in achievement gains for the upcoming school year. This is known as the “summer slide.” Reading four to six books has the potential to mitigate, stop or even reverse “summer slide.”

GELF launched its Book Bus program in 2018, in partnership with local school systems, to establish mobile libraries that provide children and communities with access to high-quality resources. Driven by a mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee, GELF’s Book Bus program aims to combat learning loss and support reading and learning in the home by providing families with continued access to books and literacy tools.

“We are very proud of the Book Bus program and are grateful for the local partners in every community, who make this initiative possible,” said James Pond, GELF president. “By bringing literacy tools and a learning space directly to Tennessee communities, we want to provide every child with the opportunity for a brighter future by experiencing the joy of reading and learning in their neighborhood.”

 With support from Delta Dental of Tennessee, GELF provided Book Bus grant funding to 15 school districts in the spring. GELF has supported a total of 18 Book Bus programs since 2018.

GELF provides two different grant opportunities for interested partners to launch or support an existing Book Bus in their community. The summer 2022 grant cycle is open and will close on April 18. For more information on how to apply or to locate a bus near you, visit or email [email protected].

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