AUSTIN -- Between family vacations and summer camps it may not always be easy for children to get their hands on a brand new book during summer break, but slacking on reading can result in what's referred to as "the summer slide."

That's when children lose three months of their reading levels over the summer.

To prevent this, Austin Independent School District Libraries is making sure books are accessible to local families through their "Buford the Bus" book program. This is how it works: Books are loaded onto the bus and are then transported to local schools for families to come and pick up at zero cost. Each child can pick up to two books.

Shannon Pearce, acquisitions librarian with AISD, said this is the program's fourth year running and that they're excited to continue making books accessible and free to local families during the summer.

"During the school year they have access to the school library, to the classroom collections and lots of stuff to read, but in the summer they lose that access," Pearce said. "We say, 'How many hands do you have? You get one book for this hand, one book for this hand, that makes two different books.' But the kids can come out. We're at 14 different schools this summer so if you want to come to all 14 and get two books each time, you're welcome to do that. So you can build up quite a little library."

Children who attended Tuesday's book drive already have some advice for their fellow students going into the new school year.

"I would just tell them to read more in the summer and read a lot to get smart when you're at school," said Brandon Arismendi, 9, who visited the book drive with his mother and siblings.

Arismendi's cousin, Itzel Garcia, 8, shared that she wants to be a librarian when she grows up. She explained why she thinks it's important to read at a young age.

"In stories and fairytales and stuff, at the end there's a solution and that helps me in helping other people when they're in trouble," said Garcia.

There is no registration or sign-up process parents have to do ahead of attending a drive.

Here are the scheduled dates for Buford the Bus' next stop to deliver books:

  • Martin Middle School: July 11 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Kocurek Elementary School: July 17 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Paredes Middle School: July 17 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Graham Elementary School: July 18 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Bertha Sadler Means Young Women's Leadership Academy: July 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.