Help bring books to kids in Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Centers

Photo of a yellow bus filled with books

Books are magic. They are machines of empathy, escape, and adventure — in addition to providing an invaluable education for kids and adults. For a brief moment, a book can help tear down the walls of your world and bring you somewhere entirely new. That new place can be beautiful or scary, grand and wondrous, or small and intimate. Access to books is vital for growth and development, and one literacy hero, Jennifer E Frances, has made it her mission to get books in the hands of kids across the country who most need them.

Nearly 17 years ago Frances founded Bess the Book Bus. The Tampa Bay-based nonprofit serves more than 50,000 kids and gives away over 50,000 books in dozens of states across the country every year.

DONATE to Bess the Book Bus

Delivered nearly 1 million books across the country

The mobile literacy outreach program is dedicated to narrowing the achievement gap created by poverty. To date, the book bus has given out more than 750,000 books nationwide.
Thanks to community support, Bess was able to visit 83 towns in 22 states in 2019, providing 57,041 books to 48,346 children and families.

A report by Grace Alfiero in Patch notes that Frances “distributed over 35,000 brand new books locally last year and reached 28,899 children who all had the opportunity to choose at least one new book they could take home to their family library.”  Read the full story here.

DONATE to Bess the Book Bus

The Book Bus Pivots operations amid the global pandemic

Due to the global pandemic The Books Bus hasn’t quite been able to put on its normal events, and travel throughout the 48 contiguous states delivering books. Frances’ ingenuity is inexhaustible, and has managed to transition operations virtually to continue bestowing stories to those who need them  most.

My life is forever shaped by the books I love and the people who read them to me. The Boxcar Children, Rainbow Fish, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Mouse and The Motorcycle, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Zack Files are among a few of my all-time favorites. In this moment, inspired completely by all that Frances does for kids across the country, I want to do my part.

DONATE to Bess the Book Bus

Help make a difference in a kid’s life

For the month of July I will be donating all of my earnings from Tombolo Books to Bess the Book Bus to provide books for kids in the Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Facility. For those who also wish to donate, you can do so by clicking here.

This initiative, Frances notes, is made possible by, and because of, the amazing work done by NOMAD Art Bus and Giving Tree Music. Learn more about NOMAD’s Justice Studio, and donate by clicking here.

Visit the Book Bus website, and follow it on Facebook for frequent updates.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to