As the school year comes to a close, Cameron Brooks is gearing up to keep kids from the annual summer slide—the loss of multiple reading levels between spring and summer semesters—with the Bibliobike, a tiny library on wheels.
For 10 years, Brooks has taught third grade at Chase Street Elementary, and he’s lived in the neighborhood even longer. Chase is a Title I school, which means it’s part of a federal program that helps fund schools with high numbers of low-income students.
After a decade of beginning and end-of-semester reading assessments, Brooks and other teachers have noticed the presence of summer slide year after year, simply because the kids aren’t reading. “Over the years, I’ve done home visits for multiple reasons,” Brooks said. “I definitely see a lack of books at the homes, so I thought that this year, instead of just packing up all my books, I’d take them to the kids.”
Brooks was inspired by “a handful of books” like That Book Woman, a tale about a group of librarians who would travel year-round in Appalachia during the Great Depression, delivering books to children. After noticing the parallels between the families in that book and the families of some of his students, Brooks decided to combine his love of cycling with his desire to see his students succeed.
This summer, after a successful GoFundMe campaign, Brooks will set out biking around Athens, visiting his students’ neighborhoods with a pull-behind mobile library.
The library, which will most likely be built by a parent of one of CSE’s students, will be a 3-foot-tall box on wheels, with two shelves that can fold out when the bike is stationary. With several shelves of books, as well as bookmark and pamphlet holders, kids will be able to browse and check out books, parents will be able to get literature on reading with kids and a portion of the shelves will be reserved as a Little Free Library, such as those seen scattered around town.
The plan is to visit each chosen site weekly, and Brooks will put a schedule on his blog, bibliobike.org, as well as make calendars to hand out to parents. Donations can be made through gofundme.com/bibliobike until a Paypal link is set up on the blog.
For now, the books will be targeted toward grades K-5, but Brooks says that after the Bibliobike gets started, he’s open to adding higher levels or even helping parents get the books they want for themselves.