Special education teacher and bus driver Julie Callison knows how important it is to foster a love of reading while kids are young and enthusiastic about learning new things. This year, Callison, who works for the Drew Central School District in Arkansas, is taking things a step further by integrating books into more than just her classroom; they’re now also part of her school bus route.
Callison keeps a big bucket of books near the door of her bus, and each student is allowed to take up to three of them. They can take the books back to their seats, read them, and trade them with other students. Many of the older students spend time reading books to younger students, and sometimes the younger students even get to practice reading with an older student listener to help them on tricky words.
At the end of the bus ride, the kids return their books to the bucket and go to school, often excited to return to a new favorite book at the end of the day.
And that’s not the whole program either. On Friday afternoons, to celebrate the end of the week, Callison invites one of the older kids, the ones that tend to sit in the back of the bus, up front to read to the entire bus over the loudspeaker. The “special guest reader” chooses a book and spends the entire bus ride entertaining his or her classmates with a story.
Callison’s program is really helping this small group of kids get into reading, and it’s also helping them build a community of friends and fellow readers! Not to mention the fact that it keeps kids off their electronic devices for a little while!
But the kids aren’t the only ones getting into it. Since the Arkansas Department of Education posted about Callison’s idea on Facebook, the post has accrued nearly 6,000 likes, hundreds of comments, and over 4,000 shares! So many people are loving Callison’s idea. Let’s spread it far and wide so more kids will have the chance to read during their bus rides!
The world needs more amazing teachers, like Callison, who are constantly looking for creative ways to make reading and learning fun. Thank you for being awesome and putting your students first!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?