Read-a-thon to be held in Farmington for mobile kids’ library

Backroad Books is hosting a 12-hour-long “read-a-thon” to raise funds in its initiative to bring free children’s books and a mobile library to rural areas in Franklin County. The read-a-thon will be held at the municipal parking lot in front of the Franklin County Courthouse Saturday, May 21. Photo courtesy of Amber Stone

FARMINGTON — Backroad Books is fundraising for its mobile children’s library initiative with a 12-hour-long read-a-thon Saturday, May 21.

The fundraiser will directly support Backroad Books – a mobile library Twice Sold Tales owner Amber Stone is building to bring a library and free children’s books on the road to more remote areas in Franklin County.

Stone previously said Backroad Books is meant to promote literacy in areas throughout Franklin County she calls “book deserts” – “a neighborhood or a township or area that doesn’t have any access to books” such as areas not near a library or bookstore.

At the read-a-thon – to be held from 12 pm to 12 am – participants will have the chance to read at length to raise money for Backroad Books. The fundraiser will fund all the books stocked in the library, Stone said.

Participants are charged with finding sponsors who can pledge a certain amount of money for the length of time they spend reading.

Stone said she’s excited to see “people out all night and reading together.”

Advertisement

She’s planning for there to be food trucks, a campfire and prizes.

Stone said she’s felt supported by the community because they understand the importance of literacy and are learning more about the dangers of book deserts.

“This community places a huge value on literacy and literacy arts – especially for our kids. I think people saw that there’s a need,” Stone said in a recent interview. “A lot of people had never heard of book deserts. And I think people are now realizing that we have lots of corners in Franklin County that are book deserts.”

Since mid-2021, Stone has been renovating an old camper van that will be home to the library. During the building process students at Foster Career and Technical Education Center provided help along the way, she said.

Backroad Books is additionally receiving support from United Way of the Tri-Valley Area and Literacy Volunteers.

Backroad Books will also be working with Literacy Volunteers to help the latter organization “get to those rural spots” and teach classes, she said.

Advertisement

Stone also plans to collaborate with local farmers to offer fresh vegetables along the library route.

When it all comes together, the camper van will have bookshelves for children to rifle through, books to take home and a space where they can sit and read.

Stone said she’s hoping this initiative will help make it more accessible for families living in rural areas to prioritize reading in the home.

She compared it to her shop, Twice Sold Tales, that can be “overwhelming” for any person to navigate.

“If they can’t come here, I want to hand them the books,” Stone said.

Stone’s own childhood was filled with nightly book readings with her father, she said.

Advertisement

“Books were a major, major theme in our house,” Stone said.

Now as a parent, Stone said “reading to [my kids] is by far my favorite part of the day.”

She’s also hoping Backroad Books can provide access to more diverse stories.

“We live in an area where there’s not a lot of diversity,” Stone said. “The only place that kids are going to see that in rural Maine is through a book.”

Ultimately, Stone said she’s “just excited to do something for the community.”

Backroad Books’ “Twelve hour read-a-thon” will be held Saturday, May 21, 12 pm to 12 am in the municipal parking lot in front of the Franklin County Courthouse. Those interested but unable to attend the read-a-thon can also read and raise money on their own. More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Twicesoldtalesfarmington, via email at [email protected]or by visiting Twice Sold Tales in downtown Farmington.

Advertisement

Leave a Comment