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  • The Tuscaloosa News

    Big green reading machine: Tuscaloosa City Schools debuts literacy bus

    By Gary Cosby Jr., Tuscaloosa News,


    It's bright green, it's filled with books and learning games, and children flock to it, but the big green reading machine has no name as yet.

    Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent Mike Daria said, "Right now, it is called the Tuscaloosa City Schools Literacy Bus. It's yet to be named. We are seeking input now on what to name it."

    The big green reading vehicle was on display June 7 at the Live at the Plaza outdoor concert event at Government Plaza. Children and parents were encouraged to submit their ideas for a name for the bus.

    "The point is (that) literacy is not just a school (or) a K-12 thing ― literacy is for an entire community," Daria said.

    The bus is part of a larger program the Tuscaloosa City Schools are using to, in Daria's words, create a culture of literacy in the Tuscaloosa community. The bus is funded by a federal grant that is designed to promote literacy outside the classroom.

    The bus renovation cost around $100,000, but Daria said the grant includes money to buy books, create programming and to provide staffing. Three people on the Tuscaloosa City Schools' staff are funded by the literacy grant and they will work closely with the bus and associated programs.

    "It's not just about the bus. The bus is just one strategy. We have barber shop books, neighborhood books ... so we have different ways to get books in the hands of young readers," Daria said.

    The bus was once a Tuscaloosa City Schools school bus. The seats were stripped out and the interior renovated so it looks and feels more like a library on wheels.

    The bus will be used to create opportunities for learning outside the classroom environment.

    "Young ones can come on this bus and certainly get books to take home, but there will be programming on this bus. There will be lessons taught on this bus to really incite and create that love of reading, which builds a culture of literacy for the entire community," Daria said.

    After its debut during Live at the Plaza, the bus will appear at other community events throughout the summer and will also be available for use by organizations such as the United Way.

    Terri Byrts, director of student literacy for TCS, said she was "super-excited" about the bus.

    “I feel that the Literacy Bus will add an extra layer of excitement about reading when the bus visits the local parks, ball games and other events this summer and passes out the latest book titles,” Byrts said in a TCS news release.

    She said she hopes that the bus inspires a love for reading in students.

    “It’s very important that all children are reading because we know that reading takes our children further,” Byrts said.

    Reach Gary Cosby Jr. at

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