IRMO – H. E. Corley Elementary’s Bookmobile is wrapping up its third year as a summer program. Reading interventionists Kellee Edwards and Jenny Qualls take time out of their summer break to lead the program. Qualls said they wouldn’t continue doing it if the kids weren’t interested.
“We’ve served about 40 kids this summer and they have absolutely loved it,” said Qualls. “If they didn’t enjoy it then we wouldn’t keep doing it.”
Created by Qualls, the bookmobile takes place once a week and is a way for them to take books to students who wouldn’t normally have easy access to books in hopes to prevent the summer slide and continue to develop a love for reading. It is also a way for Edwards and Qualls to monitor what each child is reading.
“A lot of the families we serve over the summer may not know what books are on their child’s reading level so they might be reading something too hard or too easy,” said Edwards. “This is a way for us to monitor what they are reading and help make suggestions of a different series that might be more appropriate for them.”
Qualls said they’ve studied research that suggest children who are provided books over the summer to read are about half a year ahead of those that don’t read or have easy access to books over the summer. Through the bookmobile program, they have even started serving siblings of students both younger and older that do not even attend H. E. Corley Elementary.
“We have started serving whole families. Right now we are serving children as young as three years old and even older siblings of some of our students,” said Edwards. “The younger siblings of our students are my favorite. When you close the car door, you can hear them screaming in the house out of excitement because we are at their house for them to pick out new books.”
When asked how they’ve continued to keep the excitement of the bookmobile and make reading fun Qualls didn’t hesitate. She said, “The key to our bookmobile is seeing our students want to read, especially over the summer. We aren’t quizzing them on it or making them analyze it and critique it, they just get to read for fun and that’s why it’s exciting for them. In the end, this is all to help kids enjoy reading and prevent the summer slide and we’ve found that if we go to our students they are more likely to read over the summer instead of just having our library open for them to come to us.”
New principal Jason Pollock said he has been impressed with the bookmobile since arriving at the school in July. He said, “Our goal at H. E. Corley Elementary School is to create young leaders, and by our students having the opportunity to continue their reading over the summer, it does just that,” Pollock said. “We thank Ms. Edwards and Ms. Qualls for continuing this exciting initiative for our students!”