For kids in Gainesville, reading over the summer pays.
Not only will school-age children be able to improve their reading skills by practicing over the summer, but they will be able to ride Hall Area Transit’s Red Rabbit buses to the Gainesville library branch for free all summer.
The Red Rabbit Reads program was started last year as a collaboration between Hall Area Transit, Gainesville City Schools and Hall County Library System’s downtown location, said Phillippa Lewis Moss, director of the Community Service Center.
"When children leave school in May and they have that long break, sometimes they lose important information that they took the entire previous year to gain," Moss said. "One of the ways we can help our young people to retain and advance their skills, particularly in the area of literacy, is give them avenues to access the public library system where they can get books, observe others reading and participate in a host of programs and projects that the library provides over the summer months."
Before school ended, children between the ages of 6 and 18 in the Gainesville school system received a flier about the Red Rabbit Reads program. They can use the flier for the first free ride to the library, and then a librarian will put a sticker on their library card that they can show to the bus driver for subsequent trips.
Children and one guardian can ride the Red Rabbit for free using their library card from June 1 to Aug. 31.
Red Rabbit Reads allows kids with nothing else to do during the summer to take advantage of library books and programs, said Connie Davis, projects director for pre-K, day care and employee relations for Gainesville schools.
"A lot of the kids like to read but they can’t get there. They can’t walk, some of them live too far out. So this is just a great educational tool," Davis said. "Last year it was very, very successful."
Davis said giving kids access to the library not only will keep them entertained but give them an educational advantage in the fall.
"The more you can read the better you can read," Davis said. "It’s just a wonderful activity."
Moss said she is hoping at least 150 kids will participate this year, and the first 50 students who submit their fliers to the library will receive small tokens of appreciation.
"Last year, with very little marketing at all, we had about 75 children participate," Moss said.