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Forest Hills Book Bus promotes summer literacy across Florence

FLORENCE, Ala. — As the school year comes to a close, the staff at Forest Hills Elementary School is developing an innovative approach to helping students avoid the summer slide.

The Forest Hills Book Bus is set to roll through the streets of Florence beginning in June. Principal Laurie Fowler said it's a way to bring the benefit of a library to the students in situations where they may not have access during summer. Fowler said a team of Forest Hills teachers, student council sponsors, and others brainstormed how to make the process work logistically. The Forest Hills team is collaborating with the district's Child Nutrition Program to use the Falcon Feeder food truck to transport books to neighborhoods around town.

Fowler said to stock the Book Bus, Forest Hills students are giving back.

"During the month of May, students at Forest Hills are going to be asked to donate any books from home that they have that they are done reading that they don't want to read anymore and bring those to school," Fowler said. "We also have encouraged our students before they donate those books if they write a simple little encouraging note in the front cover, just encouraging the future reader to have fun reading the book."

Once books are donated, they'll be sorted by reading level to simplify the selection process during the planned stops come summer. Student readers can also look forward to a sweet treat when they receive their books.

"Of course, we want to bring popsicles to make it even more fun for the kids," Fowler said.

Although Forest Hills is organizing the project, Fowler said the Book Bus is meant to serve everyone.

"This is something at Forest Hills that we want to do for not just the children of Forest Hills but the children of Florence," Fowler said. "Also, it is going to be honor code system. You can keep the book, or you can meet us back at that same stop a week later, and if you want to switch the book out, you're welcome to do that. We just want to get books in the hands of kids."

The book drive for the Book Bus runs through May 23. The Book Bus will begin on the first Thursday in June from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fowler said the routes will be released ahead of time.

If you want to sponsor the Book Bus, call the Forest Hills main office at (256) 768-2500 or email Laurie Fowler at To see the planned stops and routes, click here.

By Jeremy Jackson
May 15, 2024