The youth literacy program, Book Buzz, is 15 years old. It has raised the level of reading and writing among students in this area. When the program started, not even the founders of the program expected the level of success Book Buzz has achieved.

Dawn Kitchell, who heads the Newspapers in Education  (NIE) program for The Missourian, and Chris Stuckenschneider, book editor of this newspaper, started the program, and still are directing it.

The program has provided 16,540 children’s books to area schools and libraries. The value of the donated books has been estimated at nearly $300,000.

The program would not be possible without the support of about 20 sponsors — service clubs, businesses and individuals. The first donor was the Washington Rotary Club, which still is a sponsor.

In the first weekend issue of The Missourian each month, three books are recommended for young, middle and older children, and those who read them are encouraged to write reviews for publication. One review for each book is selected to appear in print. The rest are posted on the newspaper's website, emissourian.com.

The three Book Buzz Picks each month are donated to the 39 school libraries and public libraries in communities in the circulation area of The Missourian. The sponsors have “raised” readers with their generous donations, Stuckenschneider explained. Kitchell said Book Buzz started as an idea to create a book club in The Missourian to encourage children to read.

The success of the program may be measured by its longevity. It is impossible to know how many children have been helped and encouraged to read through Book Buzz. The success of the program is due to the vision and energy of Chris Stuckenschneider and Dawn Kitchell.