YWCA MDI helps Kids Book Festival

BAR HARBOR — The YWCA of Mount Desert Island has donated $1,200 to the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival to encourage literacy among students from Trenton and Mount Desert Island.

“We are overjoyed that the YWCA has chosen to support a celebration of children and story,” said co-founder and New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones, a Bar Harbor resident. “Its gift is a heart-warming and generous example of the kindness that runs through this community as well as a real positive step towards empowering kids. This festival is about literacy and a true celebration of story. We are so grateful that the YWCA supports us and kids.”

The First Annual Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival will be held Oct. 9 and 10 on MDI. The organizers of this event will bring over 40 authors and illustrators into schools on Friday, Oct. 9, where they will hold workshops, readings and discussions with students. On Saturday, those authors will be available to the public at venues around Bar Harbor. They’ll give readings and have workshops, panels and signings.

The festival began when Jones and Bar Harbor Police Sgt. Shaun Farrar were inspired by the link between criminal activity and literacy as well as Jones’ father’s own struggles with reading, which kept him from pursuing school past second grade.

“My dad was a brilliant man, but his inability to read held him back. His confidence suffered, and his life suffered,” Jones said.

The duo’s efforts to bring a celebration of story to the island has been supported by the Jesup Memorial Library, Bar Harbor Fire and Police Departments, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Bar Harbor Rotary Clubs, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, MDI YMCA’s Togetherhood Program, Mystery Cove Books, ArtWaves, Tom Wallace Construction and other individual businesses and donors.

All of the authors attending the festival are donating their time. The book festival hopes to raise funds to cover their meals, gas to get them to and from the schools and airports as well as the cost of a book for each child.

Another goal of this event is to bring diverse authors to the area. Currently, most of the volunteer authors are white.

Contrary to popular belief, most authors are not wealthy, and the YWCA’s funds will help bring the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author Greg Neri to Maine. Neri was recently featured in the New York Times for his book “Tru & Nelle,” which is the story of the friendship of Harper Lee and Truman Capote.

Exposure to diverse authors and diverse stories helps promote empathy in children and adults. The festival would love to be able to have these authors be a part of the experience for island kids.

YWCA MDI is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Established in 1904 in Bar Harbor, the nonprofit offers short and long-term housing for women, as well as challenging and stimulating programs for both women and children.

Visit www.ywcamdi.org.

Learn more about the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival at www.barharborkidsbookfestival.com or on Facebook. You also can donate to support kids and books at www.gofundme.com/barharborkidsbooks.

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