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"I originally started the program in Florida with two schools that Erma the READing therapy dog and I volunteer at on a regular basis. These are Title 1 elementary schools and sometimes the children wait a long time for their bus ride home or have a distance to travel. Most don’t have devices at their age so I thought it might be nice if they had something to read. I didn’t want them to think about school or homework, I wanted them to have books that they could escape into. I feel that any time I can get a book into a child’s hand I have got them one step closer to becoming a lifetime reader." December 2019 we are expanding the program to all Title 1 elementary schools in Polk County.
On September 12th, we kicked off this program in Maine at SeDoMoCha School in Dover-Foxcroft. They have 18 buses and some of the children have a 40 minute one way ride. I thought they deserved to have something to read. I gathered over 800 books and it is a huge hit with the kids.
Highlights of Erma’s Books on the Bus Program: Polk County School System
This free program aims to provide quality reading material to children on their ride to and from school on their bus. This initiative is supported by April Taylor and her READing therapy dog Erma.
• Over 18,000 books provided by April Taylor, and Goodwill’s Bookworks., 397 school buses will have containers of 30-40 books each.
• The bus will have a volunteer “Librarian” that will make sure the books are returned, and stowed away according to the driver’s wishes. The children will each receive a special badge, certificate and recognition.
• At a predetermined time we will switch out the book containers so that the children have many different books to read through the school year.
• There will be gift certificates hidden in one of the books on each bus. Local companies have donated to encourage the children to read each book.
All books will have a Erma’s Books on the Bus sticker to encourage their return to the containers.
• This is the only program of its kind in the world that has a therapy dog as a proponent.