Have you ever wondered about the Wonder Bus?
The Wonder Bus is a brightly decorated mobile library and resource center operated by the Del Norte Child Care Council for young children across the county. As of 2001, the Wonder Bus programs included stories, songs, handicrafts, games and toy rentals – all to support early literacy and school readiness. The Wonder Bus was put on hold during the pandemic but has recently resumed.
Families who use the resource are grateful for it. Last Wednesday, Katie Smith and her 2-year-old daughter Willow Parker-Smith read a book they had borrowed from the bus library. Outside the bus, DNCC staff had set up toys and soap bubbles for the children to play with and offered free reading time.
“She loves coming here and playing,” said Smith. “She loves buses and can look at books. In addition, my 9-year-old son will come and read a book that he can take home with him. “
Smith said she and her children have been using the Wonder Bus for about 10 years.
Melodee Mitchell, executive director at DNCC, said the Wonder Bus has helped hundreds of children over the past twenty years.
“The Wonder Bus is that big, beautiful attraction for children and families. Once you get in touch with the Wonder Bus, you really become familiar with literacy and school projects, ”said Mitchell.
Mitchell said the main goal of the Wonder Bus is to reach children in the remote communities like Smith River, Gasquet and Klamath who do not have equal access to books or the other resources that the bus provides. On the bus, children and parents can also get help signing up for library cards and early learning programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and First 5’s Ready For K Texting program.
Nevertheless, the bus had an uncertain future at times due to the lack of consistent funding.
The bus stood still for two years. It needed repairs and its maintenance fund ran out. With the support of the community, however, the bus was repaired and was ready to go again in September 2019.
Now the bus has been back in service since the pandemic closed and can be found in the Crescent City Wednesday Farmers Market parked in front of the Del Norte Child Care Council on 212 K Street. Mitchell said they were in the process of creating a long-term route for the bus.
Wonder Bus partners include First 5 Del Norte, City of Crescent City, Del Norte County Child Support Services, The California Endowment – Building Healthy Communities, SeaQuake Restaurant and Brewing, Del Norte Office of Education, Del Norte County Library, Mor Jon Inc., California Auto Image and the Wild Rivers Community Foundation.
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