First of three pop-up, drive-through libraries to be hosted Tuesday

NILES — Pop-up libraries for student reading programs are scheduled for three dates over the summer. However, the events will be less of a community gathering than they have been in the past.

On Tuesday, the first of three Summer Pop-Up Drive-Up Library events will be hosted by Niles Community Schools. The event partners the schools with the United Way of Southwestern Michigan’s Meet Up and Eat Up program to provide a free meal when students pick up books.

With two locations for each date, Niles High School at 1441 Eagle St., will host its pop up from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7, July 21, and Aug. 4. On the same dates, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Ballard Elementary School, at 1601 Chicago Road, will host the event in the afternoons.

“Reading is a key component to every student’s education, and we want to help provide the necessary resources to support our community,” said Donna Roark, assistant superintendent for curriculum and personnel at Niles Community Schools. “The district continues to be committed to improving student achievement, as well as preventing summer learning loss and the ‘COVID slide.’”

The event is designed to provide reading-level appropriate material for students from pre-school to fifth grade. While Niles Community Schools puts on the event, it is open to all students in the community.

“If it’s a student we don’t know, a friend or family member coming to get food here, they can still pick out a book,” said Dan Applegate, superintendent of Niles Community Schools. “It may not be at their level, but we will still give them reading material. We’ll be handing them out as parents drive through, so we really encourage parents to do it.”

In past years, Applegate said the event has been hosted in a park where Niles High School students from different sports and academic organizations help serve the food to the community members attending. The past events also featured Viktor the Viking, the high school’s mascot, and Clifford the Big Red Dog from the children’s books.

“Unfortunately, we can’t do it that way this year,” Applegate said. “It’s going to be more of a drive through, Parents can drive through. We will be wearing masks and gloves out of precaution. Parents can drive up and say who their child is, and we can get them food and some books that they can read independently at their level.”

Students are free to return the books to the schools, but Applegate said it is not required.

“Reading is so key to every students’ education, so we want to help provide those resources to kids in the summer,” Applegate said.

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