JMU News

Gus Bus to motor through summer with online reading program

by Eric Gorton



The Gus Bus will continue promoting reading online this summer by offering programming Monday through Thursday from mid-June through July to families who register. 

Called “Brain Boosters,” the new program aims to keep children in grades K-5 reading and participating in other types of educational activities while maintaining social distancing. 

The programming will enable children to log in and listen to Gus Bus literacy specialists read stories in real-time, and to read along and engage with the teachers and others, said Jolynne Bartley, assistant director of Children and Youth Services at the James Madison University  Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services, the home of the Gus Bus. 

Parents who register their children also can register to have learning materials, books and activities delivered to their homes. Some of the activities will relate to the online programming, but others are designed to be completed away from a computer. "We wanted to give children an opportunity to engage with something interesting and fun and educational that’s not screen-related," Bartley said. 

The first delivery will be made before the program begins June 15, another will be made about halfway through the seven-week program and the last will be made after the program ends on July 30, Bartley said. 

Each day of the program will consist of two 30-minute storytimes and two one-hour lesson periods, Bartley said. To register, or to get more information, contact the program by emailing


Gus Bus hopes to resume community visits 

As long as it is safe to do so in the fall, the Gus Bus plans to resume its normal schedule of visiting neighborhoods in Harrisonburg, New Market (Shenandoah County) and Stanley (Page County), Bartley said. The goal is to resume those visits along with the food truck from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. The partnership provides non-perishable food items to families served by the Gus Bus. 

The Gus Bus recently received a $2,875 grant from the United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley that will enable it to continue serving New Market and Stanley. Bartley said she hopes those families will participate in the summer Brain Boosters programming as well. 

Since mid-March, when area schools shifted to online learning for the remainder of the academic year, the Gus Bus reading specialists have been posting videos of themselves reading books on YouTube and Facebook.


About The Reading Road Show/Gus Bus 

The Reading Road Show, a program of the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services at JMU and more affectionately known as the Gus Bus, is a mobile literacy program that helps bring literacy opportunities into students' neighborhoods. On the Gus Bus, instructors provide storytime, activities and book checkout for students. The Gus Bus also works in collaboration with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to give out food bags at the neighborhood stops. 


Media Contact: Eric Gorton,, 540-908-1760. 


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Published: Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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