WATERVILLE — Bess the Book Bus recently visited Waterville giving 386 children a free book. The children currently attend Educare Central Maine or kindergarten at the George J. Mitchell School, according to a news release from Educare.

“We love it when Bess the Book Bus comes to visit. The children are excited to climb aboard Bess and are thrilled to be able to choose a book to take home with them. It really fuels their interest in literacy,” Family Services Coordinator for Educare Jenifer Hickey said in the release.

The bus is filled with hundreds of books for children of all ages. Jennifer Francis, the founder and driver of Bess, rotates the available books based on the ages of the children, to ensure they are age-appropriate for the group.

Ellen Richards, owner of the Children’s Book Cellar in downtown Waterville, has been instrumental in getting Bess the Book Bus to Waterville, according to the release.

“Jennifer Francis is bringing books to kids all over the country. I am so thrilled that I can support this effort in our community and beyond,” said Richards in the release, who first met Francis at a conference in New York.

This is the fourth year that Bess the Book Bus has visited Educare Central Maine. Other stops included Houlton, Jonesport, Lewiston and several stops in southern Maine.

For more information, visit bessthebookbus.org.

Educare Central Maine provides high-quality early childhood education for children birth to age 5 and is a partnership between the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, Waterville Public Schools, the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. For more information, visit educarecentralmaine.org.

Bess the Book Bus Inc. is a mobile literacy outreach founded in 2002 by Jennifer Francis, in honor of her grandmother, Bess O’Keefe. Bess the Book Bus is dedicated to reading to children, promoting literacy and getting books into the homes of children and families across the country. Bess spreads the joy of reading nationwide, giving away tens of thousands of books to children of all ages.

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