It’s long been a tradition to give children a lollipop when they come to the drive-through windows at the bank.

That tradition changes a couple of times a year at some local banks in Ripley and Ravenswood.

“About three years ago, we started giving books to children in the cars that came up to our drive through,” said Kerry Casto, Market President of United Bank in Ripley. “We try to do this at least two times a year.”

The idea came through discussion between Casto and members of the Read Aloud of Jackson County board of directors.

“Linda Dickirson, Janet McCauley, Lisa Bailey, Cheryl Miller, and I were talking about ways to get books in the hands of children,” said Casto. “The idea took off from there. Nick Miller of BB&T got on board immediately with both those branches and it’s just grown from there.”

This year, City National Bank and Premier Bank’s two Ripley branches took part in the give away.

United Bank, BB&T and Premier began their book campaigns on Dec. 17, while City National Bank gave books away during its coat drive event on Dec. 13.

“We will give the books away until they’re gone,” said Casto. “We have books on different levels. I’m not sure how the other banks choose which books to buy, but I rely on my daughter-in-law, Stephanie Casto, to guide me. She’s a kindergarten teacher at Evans Elementary and, of course, loves children’s books and knows a lot about them.”

Donations of new books would gladly be accepted as well.

“BB&T has an anonymous donor who gives a great number of books in honor of her grandchildren,” said Casto. “She saw what the bank was doing and just wanted to help. We would love for others to do the same.”

The bank tellers say that this is as special for them as it is for the children.

“Their eyes just light up when we hand them a book,” United Bank teller Sarah Bentley said. “They actually remember the next time they come by that we gave them a book. And we encourage the parents to read with their children as well.”

Fellow United Bank teller, Tisha Campbell, says she’s always excited to see the books.

“They are such good choices,” she said. “I want to read them myself.”

Ultimately, it’s the importance of reading that drives all four banks to take part in this gift of books.

“As a member of the Jackson County Read Aloud board, I see the passion and concern they have regarding children reading,” said Casto. “Being able to do a small part, and seeing how happy it makes the kids, is very rewarding to us at United and I know the other bankers feel the same way.”