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Book Buddies Highlight: Nathan Graf

Love the Bus Month 2024

February is Love the Bus Month and at the SAISD Foundation we are proud to recognize the staff from the San Antonio ISD Department of Transportation who help the Book Buddies Bus reach more students. We spoke with the Department of Transportation’s senior executive director, Nathan Graf, to learn more about their perspective on the work that goes into keeping the wheels on the bus moving. 

Graf shares how the idea came to life and how the SAISD Foundation was a perfect partner in getting the bus going.“ When I began my career with SAISD back in March 2017 the SAISD Foundation generously donated some reading books to our department to distribute to bus riders in June. I rode many of the buses that summer to help distribute these books along with our wonderful bus drivers and monitors.”

Seeing the direct impact immediately, Graf was inspired by the gratitude of the students who were receiving the books at the apartment complexes they were visiting. “When we went to give some books to a little boy he told us that he did not have any money to pay for them. We told him that the books were free and a gift for him – both of his eyes got so big and matched the huge smile on his face, he was so excited!” It was a natural partnership that came together after the first round of sharing literature with our San Antonio ISD community. Now, the Book Buddies initiative and partnership between SAISD Transportation and the Foundation allows our students to have a wide selection of books to choose from.

Each student who visits the Book Buddies Bus,
chooses and keeps six books to build their home library.

Considering how diverse the community is within our SAISD familia, it is only appropriate that the books on the bus reflect those unique perspectives. Graf shares, “We have books in English and Spanish and by Hispanic and African American authors. We have books on astronomy, cooking, animals, and sports. We have picture books, fiction, and non-fiction.” Ensuring that the Book Buddies Bus offers the students a variety of options for their reading interests, helps them stay engaged in the books they pick out. “Every child that gets on the Book Buddies Bus will find a book that uniquely fits their needs.”

Through the Book Buddies Bus, we have been reminded of the impact reading has on young students. Graf said, “Reading has always held a special place in my life.” Graf’s connection to reading is a personal one, as it helped him learn how to talk. He continues, “At age four, my mom somehow was able to teach me how to pronounce very simple words from books which eventually led to me talking and being able to then read at an early age. The impact that reading had on my life was profound and it is a blessing to share this with others.”

We appreciate the partnership that has been able to grow with the Department of Transportation and share literature with our SAISD students. Graf ends with this story of how reading has impacted our community, “Books really do change lives. Books enhance language skills, stimulate imagination and creativity, and help build a strong foundation for critical thinking. One of our bus monitors told me this beautiful story of a student receiving some books from the bus. The child’s mom did not know how to read. The child told the monitor that he was going to use these books to help teach his mom how to read. How powerful and moving!!!”

Learn more about the Book Buddies program at

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