District receives book bus grant

The Cheatham County School District, in partnership with Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF), announces the launch of a Book Bus that will bring books and literacy resources to neighborhoods in Cheatham County. The Cheatham County School District is one of 15 school districts in Tennessee that was awarded Book Bus grant funding from GELF this spring. The bus will begin traveling in June 2022.

“We are excited about partnering with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation to establish a new Book Bus. This project aligns with our five-year strategic plan. Under the partnership/community engagement section of the plan, we set a goal of establishing a Book Bus program by using one of our decommissioned school buses. With this bus, our students will have access to quality learning experiences during the summer,” said Cheatham County Director of Schools Dr. Cathy Beck.

Through GELF’s Book Bus program, partnering school districts retrofit a decommissioned school bus with seating and shelving 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.

Sixty-seven percent of Cheatham County third graders do not read proficiently. Also known as “Summer Slide,” research 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. 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 opened on July 19, 2021 and will close on August 18, 2021. For more information on how to apply or to locate a bus near you, visit GovernorsFoundation.org or email [email protected].