New book trike coming to the RFPL this summer

BELLOWS FALLS — The Rockingham Free Public Library's annual summer reading program is expanding like never before - on three wheels. With funding from Vermont Afterschool's Summer Expanding Access grant, the RFPL will be introducing the Mobile Book Trike and a bigger summer reading program.

“Unlike many summer programs and camps, the library summer reading program has always been free and open to the public,” said Youth Services librarian Sam Maskell in a news release. “When we started looking at why some kids were not participating despite wanting to, we discovered that simply getting to the library can be difficult.

“Families are busy, childcare is a challenge, and young children may not have someone to take them to the library. With this new program, we will bring all the fun, and - most importantly - the books directly to the kids.”

The new Mobile Book Trike is a tadpole tricycle, with two wheels in the front and a specially designed crate that opens into book shelving. The trike will be outfitted with a solar-powered electrical assist to help get the trike up some of the steeper hills in the area and will provide free Wi-Fi at all stops.

The RFPL will be building a new collection of books, DVDs, and other materials for youth, prioritizing books for birth through middle-grade readers, available at the trike. And the library will be hiring a young adult to fill a part-time summer assistant position.

The program kicks off in July, when the library will be offering its traditional summer program, which includes multiple weekly story times, hands-on projects, teen programs, and special events and presentations, in addition to connecting youth with exciting and interesting books and offering reading rewards for participating throughout the summer.

Simultaneously, the Book Trike will start traveling around the village.

Where will the Book Trike be this summer? The trike's routes will include easily reachable stops in the villages of Bellows Falls and Saxtons River. The library says it is hoping the community will help them figure that out. Go to and take the Book Trike Survey to suggest a stop, request a stop, and to suggest locations for programs. Routes will be announced later in June.

The summer reading program has been a key priority at the RFPL for decades. The summer reading program can have a positive impact, helping youth avoid “summer learning loss,” which is the loss of academic achievement students experience during the summer.

Many studies have found that students can lose up to two months of reading achievement during summer vacation. As the pandemic enters its third year, recent studies now show that about one-third of children in the youngest grades are missing reading benchmarks, a figure that has risen significantly from before the pandemic.

Children in every demographic group have been affected, but Black and Hispanic children, as well as those from low-income families and those with disabilities, have fallen the furthest behind.

“One of the most effective ways to combat summer learning loss is to read,” says Maskell. “Summer is the best because kids can pick whatever they would like to read and read just for fun!”

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