Schools are a lot more than the classroom. They’re a place of community connection, a place to be fed, and a place to access books and other resources.
Richmond Public School bus drivers are still working. But instead of shuttling around kids they’re delivering meals, and in one case, books.
At one stop in Richmond’s northside families come out to pick up their daily meals. After, several kids wander over to peer inside a bus painted all-black. Music blares out invitingly, and Judy Deichman waves them in -- handing out masks and a squirt of hand sanitizer as they step aboard.
Deichman is the Library Instructional Specialist for Richmond, and the mastermind behind what she’s dubbed the “Lit Limo.” The rows of seats have been removed and replaced with tubs and tubs of books.
“Half of the bus is in English,” she waves her hand, “Half is in Espanol - Spanish.”
Deichman came to Richmond from Nottoway County. There she had set up a similar program designed to make sure kids had access to books at home during the Summer months.
“It’s just to promote that, and create that, love of reading,” she explains.
The program in Richmond was planned before the pandemic. But then, COVID-19 hit and they decided to keep rolling beyond Summer. “It gives me goosebumps, it was important before but now it’s just to another level,” says Deichman.
Cynthia Patterson is one of the bus drivers helping hand out food this morning. During a quick break she boarded the bus, choosing a handful of books for her god-children and nieces. She appreciated the selection, purposefully picking books featuring Black characters.
“I want them to see that they can be in a book... they gotta see themselves other than where people put them…. where society puts (them),” Patterson says. “You can be anywhere you want to be and that’s what a book will (do), take you to that place.”
In addition to snagging from the selection already on the bus, families in Richmond can place a hold on something from their school’s library to pick up at one of the bus’ stops.
You can find more information and the schedule here.