She Gives Kids Free Books

UPDATED 08/31/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/31/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT

Jennifer Frances, 38

As a child Jennifer Frances loved opening the mailbox to find books sent by her grandma in Massachusetts. "When you open a book, you open a whole new world," she says. Sadly, her grandmother Bess O'Keefe died in 1992, while Jennifer was in college. But a decade later, stuck in a job managing apartments, Jennifer decided to turn her fond recollections of Nana's books into new memories for kids today.

Since 2002 she's shared nearly 200,000 such memories. She cashed out a 401K account, bought a used van that she dubbed Bess the Book Bus and began visiting libraries and Boys & Girls Clubs to let each child pick several books. This summer, loaded with kids' titles (mostly donated by, she has expanded her route to 35 states. Jennifer, who has two buses, funds her program with donations and waitressing. Recently one young recipient told her, "You're going to give a lot of kids a book habit." And that, says Jennifer, "sums up my mission statement better than anything."


Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters