(T-G Photo by Mitchell Petty)
Bryson is one of the youngsters at Building Blocks daycare, and he always looks forward to visits from children's librarian Jessica Osborne and the Bookmobile of the Argie Cooper Public Library.
"They get so excited about reading with the Bookmobile," said Osborne. "That's the kind of excitement that you want the kids to associate with books."
The state used to operate the Bookmobile service, but stopped its routes in 2004. At that point, the library purchased a 1984 Chevrolet box truck so they could carry on their unique outreach program.
The state followed through with a grant to supply a laptop and renovations for the truck.
The Bookmobile serves as a portable children's library, supplying reading material for children at eight daycares and five Head Start centers.
As you can imagine, the antique Bookmobile has some idiosyncrasies of its own, but it always brings smiles week in and week out.
Osborne deserves some credit for her driving skills of the titanic truck -- not a single book fell from its shelf on one of last week's routes.
"It's a little weird driving the Bookmobile after getting out of my Honda Accord," she admitted.
After years of riding in and now driving the Bookmobile, Osborne has become in tune with the old truck and its peculiarities.
"Sometimes it's slow to start up," she explained, "especially in the wintertime."
Over time, however, she's learned how to crank it just right and keep it off the curbs.
She knows how to pry the side door open when it wants to stick, and helps each one of her little readers climb up the steps.
She even knows how to rejuvenate the old generator-powered air conditioning unit when it decides it's tired.
Thursday's route hit Sweet Peas Academy, Barnyard Kids, Circle of Friends and Building Blocks daycares. And although the school year has passed and fewer children are making their way through the shelves of the Bookmobile, there were still 148 books checked out.
All the big names were there -- Curious George, Dr. Seuss, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Madeline and countless Disney characters all found new, curious eyes peering over them. Of course, books about ATVs and dinosaurs were big hits, too.
"Miss Jessica," as the kids call her, even took the time to read a couple selections for the youngsters.
It's a Thursday tradition that Osborne relishes almost as much as the kids on her route, and an initiative that the library is especially proud of.
Osborne and the Argie Cooper Library are doing their best to ensure that children in Bedford County look to reading as a form of recreation through the Bookmobile and the summer reading programs (signups begin next Tuesday), and their work is well worth commendation.
If you'd like to see the Bookmobile visit your daycare, call (931) 684-7323. You might be surprised at how your little ones get excited about reading once the seed's been planted.