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U46 Book Bus brings mobile book giveaway to students

SophiTyschenko 7 Bartlett holds up book for her mom’s
approval Wednesday morning U46 Book Bus Residences at
BuenVistElgin. | Emily McFarlan Miller~Sun-Times

Sophia Tyschenko, 7, of Bartlett holds up a book for her mom’s approval Wednesday morning on the U46 Book Bus at the Residences at Buena Vista in Elgin. | Emily McFarlan Miller~Sun-Times Media

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If you go

Who: U46 students

What: Give, get and trade books at the U46 Book Bus

When: 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, June 27

Where: Crestwood Townhomes, Poplar Creek Drive, Elgin

How much: Three free books (plus one book in exchange for another new or used book)

For more info:

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Updated: July 22, 2013 6:45PM

ELGIN — Sophia Tyschenko, 7, of Bartlett and her older sister Anna, 10, picked their way through the aisle of the school bus parked Wednesday outside the Residences at Buena Vista on Fleetwood Drive.

Each had a plastic bag full of books dangling from her elbow, and they stopped every few minutes with an exclamation over something they’d found in an aisle: more books, free books collected by the District U46 Transportation Union and driven over the summer to various neighborhoods within the Elgin school district.

Hugh Lofting’s classic “The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle.” A junior novelization of the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” A collection of tales about the supernatural that Anna had picked up after her mom, Rhonda Tyschenko, suggested it might be beyond her little sister’s reading level.

“I want it! I want it! I want it!” Sophia enthused, her eyes wide as Tyschenko offered her a book she thought she’d like from a box on a green plastic seat.

This is the second summer the U46 Book Bus has stopped in Elgin neighborhoods to give, get and trade books.

Each student can pick out three free books on the bus, according to organizer and bus driver Paulette Walsh. Students also can bring their own used books to trade for books they have not yet read.

Those new and used books are collected by U46 bus drivers — some from their own bookshelves, others from organizations such as the United Way of Elgin or booksellers such as Books On Sunset in Elgin, Walsh said. U46 provides the bus, the gas and storage space for the books during the rest of the year at the garage, she said.

“When we get a lot of kids on there, they get excited. It’s like a treasure hunt,” she said.

The district’s transportation union had thrown around several ideas, wanting to give back to the community, when it came up with the idea for a mobile book giveaway, according to Walsh. That complemented U46 Superintendent Jose Torres’ summer reading challenge, she said, “and we just wanted to get involved with the kids, and it’s something all kids can benefit from.”

More stops

Last year, more than 150 students picked out books from the book bus, she said. But they took in even more books — about 2,500 — than they gave away, she said.

“I didn’t anticipate it growing this big. It took on a life of its own,” she said.

The U46 Book Bus has planned three stops this summer, according to U46. That includes a stop earlier this month at Garfield Elementary School in Elgin and the one Wednesday at Buena Vista. Next week, it will stop by the Crestwood Townhomes on Poplar Creek Drive in Elgin.

The Gail Borden Public Library ReaderShip also will accompany the book bus to sign up students for the superintendent’s summer reading challenge.

What’s exciting, Walsh said, is seeing kids dash to the curb to sit down and start reading their new books. It’s seeing families follow the book bus from one stop to the next, such as the Tyschenkos, she said.

Rhonda Tyschenko and her two daughters first boarded the bus at a giveaway on a cold and snowy day this spring, she said. Despite the weather, Tyschenko said, “The girls just loved it. We got a bag of books they hadn’t read.”

Their family “definitely” recognizes the importance of reading, according to the Bartlett mom.

“Coming from somebody who didn’t read when I was a kid, I just think reading is everything,” she said. “I read all the time. They learn so much (even) reading road signs or cereal boxes. Everything you look at nowadays, you have to know how to read.”

As a result, Tyschenko said, her daughter Sophia is three reading levels ahead of the rest of her class at Nature Ridge Elementary School in Bartlett.

Plus, the 7-year-old said, “You get to learn new adventures.”

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