Bess the Book Bus: Interview with Jenn Frances

Have you guys heard of "Bess the Book Bus"? I hadn't either until recently. But this is so stinking awesome! Jenn Frances travels all over the country with her mobile library and gives books out to children in need! Isn't that awesome?? I thought so.

I had the chance to ask Jenn some questions about what she does and why she does it. I love hearing from the hearts of people who are pouring their lives into helping others. I just adore all she is doing!!

ย -- INTERVIEW WITH JENN FRANCES --ย 

ย How did you get started with the Book Bus?

I founded Bess in 2002 by cashing in my 401k. I was looking to give back or volunteer in my community and I couldn't find a fit. ย She is named after my Nana, Nana Bess. We called her Nana Bus. ย Visitย www.bessthebookbus.orgย for the whole story!

What has been your motivation to do what you do to help children?

The looks on their faces when they get their new books. Hugs. And we get great letters. I love it when kids tell me about the books they have gotten and what the books mean to them.

How many books do you give away each year?ย 

We average 65,000. Our goal is 100,000

Where do your books come from?

We work a lot with First Book and also with Capstone Publishers and Townsend Press. We have also worked with Penguin, Simon&Schuster, and Candlewick Press in the past. We also get a lot of books from independent bookstores and book drives.

What's one of your favorite stories of how you have impacted a child?

There is a young man named Tyler Bolden who's teachers thought he wasn't a very good reader. He was 9 when I met him. I read to his brothers in Head Start and his mom came to me asking for help. After talking to her about Tyler, I thought that maybe he just hadn't found a book that would interest him. I gave him a stack and he became hooked on the James Patterson Angel Experiment series. I then regularly gave his mom books for Tyler. We would even get him signed James Patterson books at Book Expo America every year. The family became friends of mine. I visited them when they moved to Houston. We made them part of our 2010 trip. They moved back to Florida last year. He is 15 now. I still see the family- all 5 kids. I just got an advance copy of the newest Patterson book for Tyler. The whole family reads a lot. On Thanksgiving, Tyler posted on my Facebook Page that Bess is what he was most thankful for, because having Bess in his life made him a big reader.ย 

How can people best give to help your efforts?

Right now we desperately need funds for the trip. Due to $10k in bus repairs, we are short the amount we will need to make the trip. Gift cards for restaurants and hotels or campgrounds are so valuable to us. We are also launching a Kickstarter site. We will need a lot of backers.ย 

Why did you choose to support the VSP / Transitions book drive?

Transition's Optical and VSP Vision Care have supported Bess the Book Bus since 2009 when they surprised us on the Early Show. It has been a magnificent partnership that has allowed thousands of our kids across the USA to have the gift of healthy sight and tens of thousands to experience the joy of owning new books. I would do anything for them. Anything. We are a team.

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Don't forget about the Book Drive we are having in OKC! You can drop off books at at either of these two locations:ย 

Chick-fil-A Edmond 2nd Streetย  Chick-fil-A at May & 63rd