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Mobile library brings love of reading to rural school kids


Ruapehu Librarians Fiona Thomas and Libby Ogle have been on a mission to get books to children at the National Park and Owhango Schools who otherwise are not able to get into the library in Taumarunui.

District Librarian Fiona Thomas said that there are many children who are passionate about their reading, but for various reasons such as living well outside Taumarunui, and even the cost and ability of getting to the library, were preventing them from accessing a steady supply of good books.

“The library decided to make it easier by bringing the books to them at their school,” she said.

“So 18 months ago we started trialling a monthly mobile library service to National Park School and due to its success have included Owhango School for the past nine months.

We have just been amazed at how enthusiastic the kids are for their reading and the mobile service.

We now have around 80 children, or just about every kid in both schools, signed-up as library members.

Since starting the mobile library service to these two rural schools we have seen the circulation of children’s books from Taumarunui Library increase by over 50%.

Mrs Thomas said that despite all the additional hours and work required to keep the service going it is incredibly rewarding, especially when you see the smiles on the kid’s faces when they get their next book, that they just can't wait to start reading.

“The library keeps a database of what books each child borrows and we talk to them about what they like, and don't like, about what they have been reading.

This allows us to understand each child's personal reading preferences and tastes and make tailored book selections for them which helps keep them coming back for more.

The teachers also love it as they are seeing noticeable improvements in literacy levels and enthusiasm for reading from previously reluctant readers.

It is well proven that encouraging kids to read from a young age is one the best things we can do to help set them up for life.

Regular reading helps improve concentration, strengthens and builds new brain connections, develops imagination and curiosity, and improves vocabulary and language skills amongst other advantages.

We would love to extend the service out to more of Ruapehu’s rural schools so that other kids can benefit, however, with just myself and Libby, our current workload and limited resources, we are unable to do so.

Our dream vision would be for a kindly benefactor or organisation gift us a suitable dedicated mobile library vehicle, and to have a group of committed volunteers to help run the service.

Until that dream comes true however we will continue to do what we can for the kids of Owhango and National Park.

Mrs Thomas added that if there were any parents or caregivers with kids from rural areas of Ruapehu who were having trouble getting into their library we would urge them to give us a call here at Taumarunui to see how we can help encourage and support their love of reading.

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