Do you remember a bookmobile from your childhood?
I bet it didn’t look like this.
Say hello to the Read Racer. We get smiles from people on the street when they recognize what the Read Racer is. We get waves from children on the street, in cars, and buildings when we drive up because they know what Racing to Read is. The Read Racer gets called the Library Bus, the Book Truck, and sometimes even “LIBRARY” with that level of shouted enthusiasm.
So what is Racing to Read?
Racing to Read serves children and teachers at child care centers all over Kenton County. The goal of the program is to introduce children to books and reading so they are prepared to learn how to read when they enter kindergarten.
Kindergarten registration for the 2022-2023 school year is happening now in all school districts in Kenton County, including Kenton County Schools, Beechwood Independent Schools, Ludlow Independent Schools, and Covington Independent Public Schools.
Professional library staff from the Racing to Read program visit centers each month. During each visit, library staff provide story times to all ages of children, including infants and toddlers. We allow them to interact with books and hear how words are formed. After the story times, children and their caregivers are invited onto the Read Racer vehicle to borrow library materials from among the collection of 6,000 items shelved on board. In addition to books for children, the program also offers teacher resources and music CDs so that caregivers can continue exposing children to books, sounds, and reading.
The Racing to Read team covers the county from Covington to Independence, Ludlow to Erlanger, and points in-between, visiting 159 classrooms every month.
During the pandemic, we had to shift our services from in-classroom story times to providing in-person story times at the discretion of the center directors or corporate offices. That meant story times on the Read Racer or outdoors on the center’s playground. Imagine 40 socially-distanced preschoolers and teachers being swarmed by cicadas. I’m thankful there isn’t a photograph of that particular story time!
Because we work with children, we enjoy having fun. The Read Racer has participated in many fun community events, such as Fourth of July parades and our favorite events, Trunk-or-Treats. I like to incorporate fun into my story times, using puppets and props. I share songs that children may have never heard before. Did you know that there are multiple verses to “Row, row, row your boat”? I find that Infants and Toddlers respond to books that are interactive and illustrated with bright colors. Preschoolers are drawn to picture books that are funny or are about dinosaurs. I like to share books that have diverse characters because it helps to teach acceptance and inclusion.
For more information about Racing to Read or to schedule a visit, please call 859.962.4062 or click on https://www.kentonlibrary.org/contact-outreach-services/
Miss Stephanie works for the Kenton County Public Library in Outreach Services. She loves working with the children of Kenton County and getting to show them the Read Racer!