By mtjulietintern

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Jennifer Frances, Bess the Book Bus founder, helps students in Lauren Costner’s kindergarten class find a book during a visit to the school. Bess the Book Bus is a mobile literacy outreach that serves more than 30,000 children every year.

Stoner Creek Elementary School students received a visit from Bess the Book Bus on Wednesday and received free books to help grow or start their home libraries.

Jennifer Frances founded Bess the Book Bus in 2002 in honor of her grandmother, “Nana” Bess O’Keefe. Frances said she searched for a nonprofit to contribute to in the Tampa, Fla. area but did not find a suitable match.

She started the book bus with donations from friends and remodeled a van to help bring her vision to fruition.

“I had no doubts this is what I wanted to do,” said Frances, who said she would clean the books and material when she first started the program.

Frances now drives her Citgo-fueled bus nationwide and gives away more than 50,000 books to more than 30,000 children every year.

Frances said the goal is to help children start home libraries and fuel a love for reading. Frances said she cut back the number of days and distances she travels each year to help provide more books to a certain number of communities.

“The goal is really to help these kids start their own libraries, so if we visit less communities more times, it helps that happen,” Frances said.

Mark Redditt, Citgo terminal manager, said the bus would deliver about 1,000 books in the Nashville community in three days.

“It’s always great to be around the kids. Some of them are more excited about a book than they would be a piece of candy,” Redditt said.

For more information, visit bessthebookbus.org.

By Xavier Smith

xsmith@lebanondemocract.com