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‘Happy’ Books Come to Neighborhood

Terraset Elementary school book mobile gives out free books.

Several times this summer, a blue Mazda brimming with books has circled Reston’s neighborhoods.

Deana Dueno, Terraset Elementary’s new librarian, started the school's first book mobile this summer, handing out free novels, short stories and graphic novels to elementary students nearby.

“The school is usually open for one week per summer for students to come in and get books, but it’s being renovated right now,” said Dueno. “I had all these books. I saw a similar program and thought, ‘I can do that. I have hundreds of books.’”

She is also using the opportunity to introduce herself as the new school librarian. She is familiar to the Terraset community, though; she has also taught Kindergarten, first, second and fourth grade.

Thanks to the multiple times she has gone out, the books have dwindled from two cars full to one car full. She is waiting to get another round of donations before heading out again.

“The Reston library is right around the corner, but it’s fun to drive around town, like an ice cream truck, and give out books.”

Before she heads out, parents are usually sent a mass automated email stating what neighborhoods she will visit and what time to expect her.

And like an ice cream truck, she blasts music from her car and announces her presence via megaphone at her destinations.

“We play the ‘Happy song’ by Pharrell Williams,” she said. “The kids who know me know I love that song. We like to think it’s synonymous with Terraset’s outlook.”

As the music flowed out of the car on sunny Aug. 7, parents and children tumbled into the street. They knew exactly what that song means: free books for fun summer reading.

“Reading is really important to our household,” said Reston resident Shawnda Karawa. “We used to read to our children when they were in the womb. They love reading now.”

Karawa brought several of her children to the book mobile set up in the parking lot of the first neighborhood. Each child had a stack of books to take home.

“I got books about things that I’m not experiencing,” said Sean Caceres, 10. “I’m more of a science fiction and fantasy reader, but I read everything I can get my hands on.”

Karawa said the book mobile gives her some pointers on a possible future business of hers to start her own book mobile.

Elijah Johnson, 5, picked out a Little Einsteins book after searching for the perfect read with Kindergarten instructional assistant Jeni Dillon.

“He is obsessed with reading,” said his mom, Tabbitha Johnson. “We read to him every single night. If we don’t, he cries about it.”

Dueno stressed that a lack of reading over the summer can result in summer learning loss - a symptom of carefree summers that could lead to feelings of frustration in the fall.

“I think this helps with lessening learning loss,” she said. “During the summer, it’s important to do fun things, but it’s also important to learn something.”