MATTOON, Ill. — Children at West Park Plaza ran outside shouting “Book Buggy!” as this Mattoon Public Library vehicle arrived with a back hatch full of books for them to potentially borrow.

The children displayed a level of enthusiasm that typically greets the arrival of ice cream and snow cone trucks. This enthusiasm was a welcome sight for library staff members Stacy Fetters and Molly Masulis, who drove the “Book Buggy” for this weekly visit.

“They are so excited and overjoyed that we bring them books every week. That is what we like to see,” Masulis said. She and Fetters said they hope the availability of the Book Buggy will help encourage the children to become lifetime readers and regular library visitors.

The Book Buggy, a borrowed car, follows the Salvation Army mobile food truck every Thursday in the summer as this truck delivers lunches to children in need.

Michael Fleming, who recently retired from his position on the library staff, said the Book Buggy has been in operation for approximately four summers now. He said this program brings a large selection of books to children and takes requests from them for other books. The children can check out a book one week and then return it to the Book Buggy the following week.

“It helps us connect with people who might not be able to get to the library, especially the children,” Fleming said. He added that the children can earn gift certificates for ice cream and pizza, and other prizes by reading books in this program.

Fleming received several requests for books during this summer. Through the help of donors, the library recently purchased 29 new books for the Book Buggy and filled some of the children’s requests for books that were not already in its collection. The library added “Goose Bumps” titles, “The Princess In Black,” ”The 65 Story Tree,” ”Bad Kitty School Daze,” and “Raina Telgemeier Ghosts,” among others.

At West Park Plaza, Jaymey Claxon said her children, 11-year-old A.J. and 8-year-old Kamara, look forward to the arrival of the Book Buggy throughout the summer.

“They come running up to the vehicle,” Claxon said. A.J. said he likes to check out “Star Wars” books and Kamara said her favorite title is “The Princess In Black.”

Fleming, who is moving to Kansas to be near his grandchildren there, said he will miss seeing the happy responses of the children when the Book Buggy brings them books that they have long wanted to read.

“There is nothing more exciting than seeing someone get totally excited about having a book,” Fleming said.

Source: Mattoon Journal Gazette & (Charleston) Times-Courier,

Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette,

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the Mattoon Journal Gazette & (Charleston) Times-Courier

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