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Grand Forks' Little Red Reading Bus surpasses 37,000 checkouts

The program, which began in 2016, is a collaborative effort of Grand Forks Public Schools, Grand Forks Park District, Grand Forks Public Library and the Grand Forks Foundation for Education.

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Logan Keller, 12, reads with his mother, Monica Keller, at The Little Red Reading Bus at Elks Park on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — The Little Red Reading Bus provides more than a summer reading opportunity. It also provides joy.

Ask Logan Keller, a seventh-grader at South Middle School, about the Little Red Reading Bus and he's likely to suggest an in-person visit to the Grand Forks summer program.

Alongside his mother, Monica, Logan volunteered for the bus in 2016, the year of its inception. The bus was founded collaboratively by Grand Forks Public Schools, Grand Forks Park District, Grand Forks Public Library and Grand Forks Foundation for Education.

Though he has not continued volunteering, he has been using the bus ever since. Over the past six years, his taste in books has grown and changed, but the bus still has books that captivate him.

“The bus has grown with him,” said Monica. “His interests have evolved into books about animals, the Magic School Bus and graphic novels."

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Logan isn't alone in his tastes. According to Emilia Hodgson, executive director of the Grand Forks Foundation for Education, graphic novels are becoming the most popular type of book out of the approximately 8,000 books the bus owns.

Since the program's beginning, there have been 37,182 books checked out, including more than 2,600 this summer. To add ease to the program, users can check out books in the bus but return them to the Grand Forks Public Library.

The bus travels to 10 parks across Grand Forks, making sure all kids have access. Two times a week, the bus makes night stops. This ensures that kids who cannot come during the day, for daycare or other reasons, have an opportunity.

There are 3,232 total participants involved in the program.

“It is so great that people got together, wrote a grant, and now kids have some great books to read,” Hodgson said.

The majority of the books were purchased with the initial grant. Now, new books are purchased every summer, but the bus “runs on private donations," she said.

These private donations fund everything, from books to gas money. Hodgson said rising gas prices this summer have not negatively affected the program.

Along with the library services, the bus also has started offering art projects at its stops.

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“It is a fun thing to do with the kids,” said Hodgson. “It gives families an opportunity to be in the park.”

The bus is such a success that West Fargo copied the model and made a little Red Reading Bus of its own.

Logan and his family consider the program a huge success.

“It is so great that he does not lose his reading over the summer,” says Monica. “He has always enjoyed reading, but the bus is an extra fun thing in the summer."

The author of this piece, Mary Flynn, is a freelancer from Grand Forks.

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS
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