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'Book fairies' bridging the literacy gap with Alvin ISD students learning virtually

Once a month the fairies drive from one neighborhood to another delivering bags filled with books, fun worksheets, and more to children learning from home.

ALVIN, Texas — To bridge a literacy gap caused by the pandemic and to connect with students learning virtually, Alvin ISD has kicked off a new program called, the “Book Bus Fairy Program” to deliver free books to them, safely.

And they’re doing it by enlisting the help of a group volunteers, known as the “book fairies.”

Once a month the fairies drive from one neighborhood to another delivering bags filled with books, fun worksheets, and more to children learning from home. The volunteers drop it off at their doorsteps and safely greet them.

The goal is to get new books into the hands of their 6,000 students currently learning remotely from home.

"We wanted to make sure that the kids that don't have the transportation, that are at home, can have books to read every week during the summer,” Ana Pasarella, director of Family & Community Engagement at Alvin ISD, said.

The new concept kicked off last month and is an extension of Alvin ISD’s Book Bus Program. The program started four years ago when the district converted an old school bus into a rolling library, and handed out free books to students every summer, spreading the joy of reading.

Unfortunately, the tradition came to a screeching halt this year due the pandemic. However, the book fairies are now filling that void. On Saturday, more than 50 volunteers spent the day delivering more than 3,000 free books to 850 students.

"Our volunteers who are teachers and principals who are stressed and work hard, they miss their kids, it brings them such joy and such excitement to see their kiddos face-to-face,” Melissa Igo, Alvin ISD’s Family & Community Liaison, said.

But it isn’t about books, each stop is also a moment to re-connect during a time when seeing a familiar face and hearing a message of hope and encouragement means everything.

"I mean we thrive on that connection with our families and our students," said Igo.

Alvin ISD plans on holding at least two more book distributions by the end of this year.