Book deserts are a reality for so many families across North Texas. According to Unite for Literacy, a book desert is a geographic location where reading material is hard to get without access. It’s also defined as a lack of books in the home.
Book deserts have been historically linked to low-income communities, putting students at a disadvantage during the summer and the school year.
“Located in River Oaks, Castleberry ISD is home to just over 4,000 students. Many of whom are economically disadvantaged,” Castleberry ISD lead librarian Heather Lamb said.
She said teachers, administrators and counselors see first-hand the lack of books in student homes and want that to change.
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“Studies show students reading below grade level in the elementary years are four times more likely to drop out of high school than are other students,” Lamb explained. “Taking all this information back, I also approached our four other librarians to jump on board with the idea.”
They refurbished an old school bus and started their journey developing the Books and Bytes program. It’s a mobile book program bringing literature and connectivity capabilities to disadvantaged neighborhoods in their school district.
“We have a very limited budget so donations and grants provide our funding. Recently we’ve been able to partner with the Welman Project who has a mission to fill classrooms rather than landfills. They have provided supplies and tons and tons of books,” Lamb said.