The Bruton Memorial Library partnered with MILO to host a back-to-school festivity for hundreds of children in Plant City.
Hundreds of children flocked to the Bruton Memorial Library Saturday to get a free back-to-school book bag, meet a superhero and see if they won a Kindle Fire kids tablet.
The library provided hundreds of backpacks with school supplies and free books for all who attended. Children did arts and crafts and met PBS Kids Super WHY! The library partnered with MILO to merge two events into a large festivity.
“We’re really excited about this event,” John Russell, youth services librarian, said. “The kids have the opportunity to go home with free books and school supplies and also be entered in a drawing for a bunch of prizes, including some Kindle Fire tablets.”
MILO, the Mobile Interactive Literacy Opportunity, is a psychedelic bus filled with books, movies and computers for community members to receive the assets of a library regardless of their location. The bus is funded by WEDU Public Media, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and the Junior League of Tampa.
MILO travels around Hillsborough County and Melissa Falvey, youth services coordinator for the county and a representative from the Junior League of Tampa, said it has been a big hit for the area
“It travels to a lot of rural areas, places where people wouldn’t have internet or have access to libraries,” Falvey said. “MILO does events once a month. We’ve been traveling around to libraries and Children’s Board Family Resource Centers.We were in Plant City and we had a huge response there of people saying, ‘Please, please come back to Plant City,’ so I said we’d come back to the library here.”
Falvey said MILO aims to get books in the hands of kids in every community. She said depending on how large the events are they can go home with between one to three books to keep for their personal library.
“There are so many studies that have been done that show that kids who have books at home are more likely to succeed in school,” Falvey said. “As wonderful as the library is the home library is a huge factor in that.”
While the main goal of the summer reading program was to help stop the summer slide, the dip in children’s reading and math schools during the summer months, the library focuses year round on creating a love of reading in as many children as it can.
“It’s been proven scientifically, many times over, that kids who have access to books and read on a regular basis will have an increased happiness and life success, higher graduation rates and job satisfaction,” Russell said. “On the flip side, when books are not promoted and made available the literacy rates go down and we see earlier drop out rates, which leads to many repercussions like higher prison rates.”
Bruton Memorial Library has a summer reading club that began June 3. Children received a prize for every five hours spent reading, which were recorded in a reading log provided by the library. Those children were also entered into Grand Prize drawing for four kid’s Kindle Fire Tablets, sponsored by Fred’s Market Restaurant.
Other prizes included free tickets to Dinosaur World, Family Bowl, free ice cream from Sonic Drive-In and a free frosty from Wendy’s.
Last summer there was a collective total of kids reading over 5,000 hours. About 500 kids participated this year and Russell said he believed they would meet a similar total of hours.
“The kids that are engaged and read over the summer actually have a huge advantage over those that don’t,” Russell said. “They’re ready to jump back into school, they’re excited about reading and it’s a whole other mindset for them… It’s really fun for them. They want to keep coming back. The incentives are a great bonus but they just want to come in and tell us what they’re reading and get recommendations for new books.”