Oxford, Mass. Native Helping Children Discover the Magic of Books - NECN

Oxford, Mass. Native Helping Children Discover the Magic of Books



    Jennifer Frances runs 'Bess the Book Bus' and delivers more than 70K books to kids each year (Published Friday, Feb. 21, 2014)

    (NECN: Mike Cronin) - Ten-year-old Katie Wroblewski is excited to get new reading material.

    "It's really fun to do and you really get pulled into the book when you read it," Wroblewski says.
    She volunteers at the Oxford, Mass. Public Library - but she didn't get the books from there, because right outside the library was "Bess the Book Bus".

    "Our effort is to build home libraries for children who otherwise don't have access to books in their home," Jennifer Frances, Bess the Book Bus founder, says.

    Frances started the non-profit 12 years ago with funding from corporate sponsors, delivering more than 70,000 books to kids each year.

    "Every year we travel to about 35 states. We see about 25,000 kids every year," Frances says.

    This week, Frances read stories and gave two books to each child at the Oxford Library - including 1-year-old Bradon. His mom says he already loves books.

    "He went in there and his face just lit up in that bus and he was just like 'Woah, woah' and it was just magic when he went in there," she says.

    Frances grew up in Oxford and used to come to the library with her grandmother Bess, who the organization is named after. She says Oxford's Library is one of the best she's seen, but many towns don't have access to books.

    "We have a library in Maine that has a budget of $200 a year for their children's section. That's maybe 10 books," she says.

    Frances says the greatest joy for her is watching children's excitement as they enter Bess the Book Bus. She says she's helping them to create a love for reading.

    "To me, you can't tell a child what they should read or what they have to read because that kills it for them. Letting them pick it and letting them have that excitement about it is so important," Frances says.