Jonathan Dasani, who helped deliver books last year in the Words on Wheels program
Last year, Jonathan Dasani delivered books across North Philadelphia to 79 children through Tree House Book‘s Word on Wheels program. Although Dasani will no longer be delivering books, the program has expanded this summer. Tree House Books will partner with Gearing Up, The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Wash Cycle Laundry to deliver books to children all across the 19121 and 19132 zipcodes in North Philadelphia.
Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Popp hopes to get 1000 new books — twice as many as last year’s program — to 250 children this July.
“When I was young, books were just everywhere,” Popp said. “There’s kids in North Philly who feel that way about books and they want them badly,” Popp said.
She added that Treehouse is located between two free libraries, each about two miles away in different directions.
The Words on Wheels program was started last year by former Executive Director Vashti DuBois. The inspiration for the program came from her desire to continue working with kids through the summer.
“The summer comes, and it’s like ‘okay, we have no idea what they’re doing now. Are they reading? Are they getting books? What’s happening?’ So she [DuBois] was like ‘we really need to get books to them and make sure that they’re reading over the summer even if they can’t come to our camp,'” Popp said.
She added that Dasani, the original book deliverer, actually set the standards for how Words on Wheels would work in terms of the deliveries, including the use of an app to help them coordinate deliveries. There should be around 15 bikers to coordinate with this year.
The program will start delivering books (donated by the national nonprofit First Book) in July, but orientation for the organizations and volunteers happened this week. Popp said that she hopes to do more with the program this year, including getting the bikers, who are mostly college-aged, to engage with the families they are delivering books to.
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“I’m having this orientation because I want volunteers to engage with families. Every single time you go, you should learn more about the family that you’re delivering books to,” Popp said. “I’m having them all sign a pledge that says they’ll do the deliveries with integrity and care, and not just treat it like a delivery–because it’s an opportunity for Tree House to expand and for our books to travel.”
She added that she’s also hoping to survey the families to track students’ literacy progress throughout the summer.
“From everything I’ve read, if kids are reading over the summer, they’re going to do better,” she added.
The program still needs need 170 children to reach our 250 goal, and families can register their children at http://bit.ly/1lurF5m. They must live in the 19121 or 19132 zip codes to receive books.
Photos via Tree House Books-30-
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