COLUMBIA FALLS — The Columbia Falls Bookmobile, a teacher-driven initiative aimed at providing free literacy and food access to children living in remote areas during the summer months is staying busy this summer.
The Bookmobile makes stops in Hungry Horse, Coram, Martin City and more delivering two new books each week for children during the summer months.
“We ask them to write their name in them and start a library at home, and then a lot of them pass them down to their little brothers and sisters to,” Ruder Elementary Teacher Amy Hanson tells MTN News.
Hanson is one of six Columbia Falls educators delivering books this summer. “I love to see kids jumping up and down when the bookmobile’s driving up."
The Bookmobile was started nine summers ago by Columbia Falls Educator Betsy Kohnstamm with the purpose of getting books into the hands of kids living in remote areas.
Mary Ellen Getts, a first-grade teacher at Glacier Gateway Elementary said literacy rates decline rapidly during the summer months.
“During school, we send them home with the kids, they go to the library, but during the summer they don’t have always that opportunity,” said Getts.
Hungry Horse parent Whisper said her kids are excited for the chance to delve into new books each week.
“Not having a library in town, it’s good, it’s a great service for the community, it helps them feel included and still learning throughout the summer,” said Whisper.
The school district provides a small stipend to cover vehicle costs for the bookmobile, while grant funding raised throughout the year goes directly toward buying new books.
Getts said there’s no greater feeling than pulling up to a child’s neighborhood for a drop-off and seeing them run out the door in excitement.
“The most exciting thing is when they’re like ‘the bookmobile!’ and then they run after us or drive their go cart after us to find us you know and get the books, that’s exciting because you know they’re happy to read and happy to get a new book." - Glacier Gateway Elementary teacher Mary Ellen Getts
Along with new books, the bookmobile delivers free snacks to children during their drop-offs thanks to a partnership with Nourish the Flathead.
Parents of Columbia Falls students are asked to contact their child's teacher if they would like to sign up for bookmobile.