Summer is usually a busy time for a group of northeastern Oklahoma teachers who travel through neighborhoods on a decorated school bus bringing books to kids.
But right now, Gaining Ground’s mission is looking a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The group usually travels on a bus through different Tulsa neighborhoods with loud music and hundreds of books to choose from, but this year they're doing a no-contact book delivery instead.
"We are probably going to continue this door to door delivery all summer long,” said Gaining Ground Executive Director Lisa Shotts.
The group is packaging brand new books based on the child's age and grade level then driving around the neighborhoods to drop them off at the child's door step.
"Almost 99 percent of our volunteers are teachers and so they know what it’s going to be like when we come back to school and those kids haven't been reading so they know the importance of getting books in those kiddos hands,” said Shotts.
Several donors in Tulsa have provided funds for about 600 kids to get two brand new books and a STEM kit, delivered to their doorstep every week for at least the next 8 weeks and maybe even the entire summer.
The group has also created a Facebook Book Club for kids and their parents to interact with other families reading the same books they are.
"They post pictures of what they're writing about and kids’ reading so not only is it a book delivery program but we are trying to make it as interactive as possible,” said Shotts.
They say they're going to miss having the students come on the bus to get a book -- but they know, this is the safest option they have to encourage kids to keep reading during this extended time off.
“The research is just so clear when kids don't have access to books, they slide back so kids in book deserts across all cities slide back about three months and that equates to about a three year academic loss by sixth grade so with this extended out of school time, the loss is just going to increase," said Shotts.
All of the money for the books has been donated by different charities in Tulsa.
They say right now, they have enough for about 600 kids to participate, so if you would like to participate or donate to help click here.