RPS’ ‘Lit Limo’ keeps the joy of reading alive during the summer and into the fall

Ronald E. Carrington | 8/27/2020, 6 p.m.
When Richmond Public Schools’“Lit Limo” literacy bus cruised to neighborhoods across the city delivering books and activities in English and ...
Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras, center, greets ninth-grader Chandler Holeman, left, and her brother, Chadwick Thaddeus Holeman II, during a recent Lit Limo stop at Overby-Sheppard Elementary School in North Side. Photo by Ronald E. Carrington/Richmond Free Press

When Richmond Public Schools’“Lit Limo” literacy bus cruised to neighborhoods across the city delivering books and activities in English and Spanish for students of all ages, it was a great relief to parents and school administrators alike.

For parents who couldn’t get to a library, it was a way for students to get books to read during the summer. And for teachers and administrators, it was a way to keep students engaged and learning during what is called “the summer slump.”

The Lit Limo, a converted black school bus with green graphics and a peacock logo, is stocked with hundreds of books to entice young readers.

As it makes stops throughout the city, students and their parents can select the books they want — and can keep. Students also may participate in read-aloud sessions and sign up for a Richmond Public Library card.

The program is designed to help implement RPS’ summer literacy and reading strategies as well as create excitement for books for all school age children.

Judy Deichman, an RPS instructional specialist who developed the idea and project based on her former experience in Nottoway County, said the Lit Limo is like an ice cream truck, but better because it has books instead of ice cream.

“Children are excited to see an ice cream truck and we want them to feel the same way when they see the Lit Limo,” which also has lights and music, said RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras.

Students get to choose the books they want,” Ms. Deichman said. “They’re not handed a book list saying, ‘This is what you’re reading for the summer.’ You get to come on and choose a book to keep on your own.”

The Lit Limo follows a route hitting every RPS school zone in the city. During a recent stop at Newman Village Apartments in North Side, Mr. Kamras was on hand to greet students and parents, as well as to read aloud to children coming out to select books.

“This is a part of our effort to develop a culture of a love for reading,” Mr. Kamras said during the morning stop.

He said he hopes the project will bring happiness and joy to children, especially during the pandemic. He said the Lit Limo will continue through November.

Chadwick Thaddeus Hole- man and his wife, Shayla, brought their children to a Lit Limo stop at Overby-Sheppard Elementary School in Highland Park. Their children, Chandler, 14, will be a ninth-grader at Open High School, and her brother, Chadwick II, will be in fifth grade at Mary Munford Elementary when classes begin virtually on Sept. 8.

“I am so proud of them coming out to select books,” Ms.

Holeman said of her children. “This will help them get through the summer and prepare them for the new school year.”

Autumn Nabors, RPS’ director of curriculum and instruction, said she hopes the impact of the Lit Limo will last all year.

“Just creating this culture and community, that’s like a culture and joy for literacy,” Ms. Nabors said.

Lit Limo’s routes and neigh- borhood stops are listed on the RPS website at www.rvaschools.net/Page/7634 and on Twitter @LitLimo.