DANBURY, Conn. -- Danbury literary specialist Bonnie Caton loved watching her students step up their reading skills at Stadley Rough Elementary School during the year and knew she couldn't let that slip away during the summer.
This past year, Caton gutted a recreational vehicle and turned it into the Literacy Mobile," a traveling library filled with books to thrill students in kindergarten through fifth grade, according to a release from the school district. All 475 students at the Danbury elementary school and their parents signed a contract that they would commit themselves to summer reading, according to the release.
During the school year, Caton, who has a master’s degree in reading and literacy from Western Michigan University, coaches teachers in the best practices in reading and writing and meets with small groups of students to improve their skills.
When Caton came to the district last year from Ohio, she was concerned that the students weren’t progressing in their reading skills because of the summer break.
“When I came here one of my biggest concerns was a drop in reading scores after a summer hiatus,” she said in the release. “In the spring, I tailor-made a summer reading program for the students. It has a fluency component, comprehension component and independent reading.”
From July through mid-August, Caton hit eight destinations in the Stadley Rough area in the RV, all on the teacher's own time. She loaded up her library-on-wheels with 14 boxes of books that were donated by teachers and friends, according to the release.
“Every child had an invitation in May when to meet the Literacy Mobile,” she said in the release. “Kids would bring piles of books they read and trade them in.”
The Literacy Mobile was as exciting for the students as a visit from the ice cream truck, Caton said in the release.
“The parents felt like we really care,” she said in the release. “It’s about building relationships and getting books into their hands.”
About 10 children from the neighborhood visited the bus, said Danbury parent Mary Ann Strattner in the release, and Strattner's 8-year-old daughter Maria was excited about the bus.
“Maria piled up her books and decided which ones she wanted to keep,” Strattner said. “My daughter really got a lot out of it. The good thing about the bus is that it brings (the books) closer to the kids. Some kids can’t get to the library. They were excited to see the teachers and it helped them reconnect. They do a lot for the kids.”
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