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Over 3,000 books in Troup County homes thanks to The Jungle Bus

One year ago, a jungle-themed bus ventured into the Troup County community with the goals of raising literacy rates and placing books in the homes of families. 

What started as a roving bookmobile, The Jungle Bus has now earned a place in Troup County as a staple where children can hear stories, sing songs and take a book home. 

To date, The Jungle Bus celebrities ‘Jungle Jama’ and ‘Reading Ranger’ have provided over 3,000 books to little learners and have made 97 stops to early learning centers, neighborhoods, schools and community events thanks to supportive community partners.  

The idea for a bookmobile got started two years ago when several reading advocates from Troup County School System and the community attended a Get Georgia Reading conference in South Georgia. They collaborated on ways to bring literacy to the masses in a fun, inviting environment. The idea of a bookmobile stuck. Since that time, the project has received funding from local community entities and the governor’s office. Additionally, Troup County joined together to become a part of the statewide Get Georgia Reading campaign.  

Nicole Kennedy, TCSS Title I parent and family engagement coordinator, and Gail Gordon, Success by 6 coordinator, have been the smiling faces of The Jungle Bus since its inception. Kennedy dresses as the character ‘Jungle Jama’ while Gordon is ‘Reading Ranger.’

From the beginning, they enlisted the help of marketing students at THINC College and Career Academy to help brand the bus. The Jungle theme was an instant success with the judges of the branding competition.  

Now, community members and children alike recognize The Jungle Bus as it rolls from one destination to the next. 

“Our main goal is for all students in Troup County to be reading on grade level by third grade,” Kennedy said. “As families visit the bus, they can select a book to take home with them. Literacy is an important part of success during school and after graduation.”