Bess the Book Bus, a mobile literacy nonprofit dedicated to bringing free book fairs to asset-limited schools, received a generous grant from Santander Consumer USA Inc. Foundation to fund 24 Joy of Reading Pop Up Book Fairs in six Hillsborough County Transformation Network Elementary Schools during the 2022/2023 school year. Support for Bess the Book Bus ties to one of the Santander Consumer USA Foundation’s five philanthropic pillars, physical mobility, which focuses on addressing transportation and economic issues that limit access to books.

The goals of mobile Joy of Reading Pop Up Book Fairs are to: (1) Build a culture of reading in the classroom and at home by providing free home and classroom libraries. (2) Assist teachers to achieve an improvement in English Language Arts test scores over the course of the school year by providing joyful reading materials for free. (3) Create a supportive and joyful community experience around reading by engaging volunteers to talk with the students about books and reading for pleasure. The project will be headed by Jennifer Frances, Bess the Book Bus Founder and Executive Director.

The free Joy of Reading Pop Up Book Fairs will travel to each school and impact more than 1,500 students and teachers from Pre-Kindergarten through 2nd grade at Edison, Palm River, Lockhart, Potter, Shaw and Sheehy Elementary Schools. Each school will get four visits over the course of the school year. At every book fair visit, each student will choose two new books to take home for home libraries and each teacher will choose four new books for their classroom libraries.

“Thanks to Santander’s support, we will be providing children recurring access to, and a choice of, beautiful and engaging reading materials which are vital to developing reading skills to fuel their lifetime of learning. These free mobile book fairs are joyous events that let young readers know that reading is fun, and they are supported in their learning,” said Jennifer Frances, Bess the Book Bus Founder.

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