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Inspiring new readers and artists: Books in Motion celebrates 8 years in Kern County

Posted at 7:17 AM, Jun 19, 2024
  • Video shows Books in Motion organizers discussing the importance of encouraging reading over the summer. Not only does it curb the "summer slide," but they say the Books in Motion performances provide a safe, air-conditioned space for families to go during the summer months.
  • Books in Motion has inspired Kern County youth to read through interactive dance performances for eight years. The Kern County Board of Supervisors recently proclaimed July as Books in Motion month in Kern.
  • By creating a choreographed dance inspired by a children's book, the performances allow children to comprehend stories in a unique and interactive way.


Now that summer is here, the Kern Dance Alliance and Kern County Libraries are gearing up for the eighth year of Books in Motion, the program that promotes literacy through dance. On Tuesday, June 18, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed July as "Books in Motion Month" in Kern.

“To see books come to life...that’s like a dream come true, you know, to see books come to life,” Fahra Daredia said.

Daredia works in marketing and promotions for the Kern County Library. Her dream has become a reality in county libraries for almost a decade. Books in Motion performances are inspired by children’s books, and the dances help kids creatively comprehend the story and ultimately, inspire them to read over the summer.

By combining the words on the page with choreography, organizers say that passive learning, like sitting at a desk, is replaced by something more active: kinesthetic learning.

“And instead, we’re getting up and using our bodies to retain educational information,” Andrea Hansen said.

Books in Motion first started out as a project over 20 years ago when Andrea Hansen, President of Kern Dance Alliance, was in grad school, and today, she sees the program thrive each summer to address Kern County’s literacy rates.

“Studies show that children who retain information during the summer exceed during their next school year,” Daredia said. "Education rates in Kern County are dismal. For example, only 28% of third graders meet or exceed level standards for English language arts. 13.9% of adults [in Kern County] lack basic literacy skills to perform their daily job duties. 15% of adults have not passed their 9th grade reading level in Kern County."

Retention and continued learning are key to preventing the so-called “summer slide,” when kids lose learned information, Fahra said. The library’s solution? Offering Books in Motion performances free of charge.

"34% of Kern County adults lack the basic and sufficient resources to not only feed themselves but feed their families," Hansen said. “Because we know there are so many Kern County families in need, we know that we need to offer more opportunities for families to come together in an economical way.”

Books in Motion says they recognize inflation has likely exacerbated this need since they first began eight years ago. Given the literacy rates in Kern County, organizers say there is more to be done to address illiteracy across Kern, and it is a true community effort.

Now nearing a decade of performing in Kern County, the program has become a summer tradition for families, and Andrea says she’s seen children grow up alongside Books in Motion.

“We’ve had over 10,000 children participate in Books in Motion, we've given away more than 6,500 free books..and this summer is not exception," Hansen said. "They are eligible to take home 12 free books this summer which allows them to build their home library and to read at home as a family.”

Books in Motion is preparing for a busy performance season with shows at all of the Kern County Library branches. The schedule has not been released yet, but information on the program can be found on their website. 23ABC is a sponsor of the Books in Motion program.

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