Betsy Book Bus gears up for second season

Carla Whiles and Becky Wagner at Bus
Posted On: Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Beginning June 11, the Betsy Book Bus will hit the road for the second season of its summer program. The bus will be distributing free books to children and teens in 13 different neighborhoods and programs across Elizabethton. The program will run for five weeks this summer to help local students build their home libraries and get excited about reading.

Elizabethton children, teens, and families are encouraged to visit the stop closest to their home to select books! The schedule of stops is available on the Facebook page @BetsyBookBus and on the Betsy Book Bus webpage under the Community menu of

Several students experience a summer academic slide in literacy, and that can be because of a lack of access to reading material or a lack of interest in the books they have. This program is designed to build confidence in reading that will carry over into the school year.

“Kids get very excited when they see the bus coming into their neighborhood,” said Program Director Carla Whiles. “The bus is really colorful, and the shelves are full of all kinds of books. I think knowing that it’s coming into their neighborhood to bring them books they get to keep forever definitely gets kids excited.”

The program began last year when the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation reached out to Elizabethton City Schools with an opportunity for Appalachian Regional Commission grant funding. This seed money, as well as a decommissioned bus and contributions from several local sponsors laid the foundation for the program.

Three certified teachers manage the program – Director Carla Whiles, Dr. Tammy Markland, and Becky Wagner. Dr. Markland recently completed her doctoral dissertation on data from the book bus, which showed a decrease in the summer academic slide among students who visited the bus. This was based off of data collected on the bus as well as reading assessments at the end of the school year, and then again at the beginning of the new school year.

“That was really reassuring for us,” said Whiles. “Now that we’re going into our second year, when I mention it to kids at school, the kids who visited the bus last year get really excited and have been asking if the bus is coming to their neighborhood. It’s awesome to see that excitement and to know that what we’re doing is working.”

Throughout the school year, the bus has visited Elizabethton schools and events, which teachers hope will spark an interest in teens to visit the bus.

“We have reading material ranging from birth to adults, so we hope to see more teens visiting the bus this year,” said Whiles.

This program would not be possible without significant support from Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Appalachian Regional Commission, Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Elizabethton, Academy Sports, Citizens Bank, Southern Finance, Niswonger Foundation, Niswonger Children’s Hospital, Northeast Community Credit Union, Carter County Bank, First Tennessee Development District, Kiwanis Club of Elizabethton, Appalachian Family Dentistry, Friends and Family of Chase Seeley, and the Parent Teacher Advisory Councils of T. A. Dugger Jr. High, East Side Elementary, Harold McCormick Elementary, and West Side Elementary.




June 11-13
June 18-20
June 25-28
July 9-11
July 16-19


  • 11:00 West Side School
  • 11:45 Allen Ave/G St area
  • 12:30 Jena Beth (at G St/Hwy 67 W))
  • 1:00 Reeser Rd. area (address to come)
  • 2 p.m. Boys and Girls Club (June 9 ages 9-13; July 16 ages 5-8)


  • 10:15 HME
  • 11:30 Pine Ridge (aka Rolling Hills)
  • 12:15 Oak Street Baptist Church
  • 1:00 Black Bottom at the Parks and Recreation parking lot


  • 10:15 East Side – for ESP & Camp Read-A-Lot in June (ESP will move to HME in July)
  • 11:15 Lynn Ridge and Lynn Wood
  • 12:15 Cat Island Park
  • 1:00 Mobile Homes behind Taco Johns

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