Mobile Book Bus Pushes to Increase Pinellas Reading Proficiency

Erin Murray | Spectrum Bay News 9

Jul 03, 2024

What You Need To Know

  • For the past seven years, JWB has taken a Summer Book Bus on the road to give away free books to children of all ages in under served communities across Pinellas County.
  • Reading on grade-level by the end of third grade is an important predictor of high school graduation and future success.
  • JWB says working collectively, “we are addressing the five core factors that impact third-grade reading proficiency: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, parent and family engagement, and healthy readers.”
  • By the end of the summer, the book bus will have stopped at 80 community locations and given away 12,000+ free books to more than 6,500 children

On this colorful book bus, a group of kids enjoying summer camp got to pick two books to take home Tuesday.

Mahagoni Jones is 6 and is in heaven, especially after finding a book she knows she will love. 

“I watched this show before,” said Jones, jumping up and down. “It is like, Sweet Strawberry Cake, I watched this before and I really like peoples and kitties so, I picked this one.”

The book called Puppy Love is at her reading level, but she also chose a book to challenger herself, too. It was much thicker, with a lot more words. 

One of the goals of this but is to not only get books into the hands of kids in Pinellas County, but to also keep elevating their reading ability. 

“Our campaign, the Pinellas Campaign for Grade Level Reading, it focuses on getting kids reading at grade level by 3rd grade. And we are not quite there yet,” said Brianna Ray, JWB Community Collaborations Coordinator.

The Summer Book Bus Program is run by the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County.

Pinellas County’s third through tenth grade reading proficiency scores were recently released by the Florida Department of Education. Pinellas scored a 56% which puts them at 15th best statewide. 

By 2025, JWB wants to see the third grade level scoring 70% proficiency. 

Daniel Achille, who is going into first grade, picked two books with confidence. 

“A caterpillar,” said Achille when asked about his favorite book. He loves The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar. 

By the end of Summer, the Book Bus will have traveled around Pinellas County hitting 80 locations. 

It will reach roughly 6,500 kids with the goal of handing out 13,000 books. 

Read the article and watch the news segment with interview as originally published at