Literacy program celebrates milestone

Nov 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, MO—Visit any school or public library in the Washington Missourian’s distribution area and you’ll see books with a unique round sticker on the front cover—Book Buzz Pick—alongside a perky bee with red specs and toe-bulging-blue shoes.
Meet Newsbee—he debuted in The Missourian a decade ago, on Sept. 7, 2002. Newsbee is the mascot for Book Buzz, a youth literacy project responsible for introducing readers to more than 360 quality children’s books and then placing 10,000 of those hardcover books on the shelves of school and public libraries in 16 area communities served by the semi-weekly newspaper.
The 15,500-circulation, twice-weekly newspaper began by publishing the Book Buzz Picks column each month, recommending three children’s books on different reading levels. The newspaper visited a local Rotary Club meeting to spread the word about the column.  The club liked the idea and asked if there was a way it could get behind the project.
Fast forward 10 years and you’ll find staff at The Missourian’s office packaging 115 Book Buzz Books each month bound for 40 school and public libraries.  The books are delivered with classroom newspapers through the Missourian In Education program.
“Looking back it’s incredible to see how Book Buzz has grown, from the Washington Rotary Club’s initial donation to more than 32 service organizations, businesses and individuals providing funds to help us purchase the picks each month for the schools,” said Chris Stuckenschneider, who coordinates Book Buzz, along with Dawn Kitchell, educational services director for the Missourian.     
Newsbee’s literary reach extends beyond its contributions to the libraries. Thousands of additional books have been donated throughout the community and beyond.
Many of these books are given away at Missourian-sponsored community events such as the Run to Read, are tucked into baskets at Family Reading Night or handed out in drawings at the Missourian’s Reader Recognition Night at the Washington Town & Country Fair. Other books are donated and distributed to additional organizations and causes.
Though Book Buzz was created in Washington, its buzz has spread across the U.S. In 2003, The Missourian began offering the column through the Missouri Press Association. Today, about 15 newspapers share Newsbee’s Picks in their communities.
Over the years, local teachers and librarians have grown to appreciate Book Buzz because the program “introduces students to good literature,” said Michelle Ming, second-grade teacher at St. Francis Borgia Grade School.
To commemorate the Book Buzz anniversary and the donation of more than 10,000 books, the Missourian held a birthday celebration for Newsbee in October. A retrospective video of the youth literacy project was shown and the Missourian announced its donation of an entire collection of the high demand Book Buzz Picks to the Washington Public Library.
To view the Book Buzz video, go to For information on publishing the Book Buzz column, go to