Alex Norton, 10, reads a graphic novel at Backroad Books’ 12-hour Read-a-Thon, held Saturday, May 21, in the parking lot of the Franklin County Courthouse. Backroad Books seeks to promote literacy and a love of reading by providing children in rural areas with free books and a safe place to read them. Norton said she loves reading because it “sucks you in and makes you feel like you’re there” in the pages of a book. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Bookworms of all ages gathered in downtown Farmington at Backroad Books’ 12-hour Read-a-Thon Saturday, May 21.

In the parking lot of the Franklin County Courthouse, locals gathered with piles of books to raise money for Backroad Books — a mobile library by way of camper that Twice Sold Tales owner Amber Stone is bringing to Franklin County’s remote areas to promote literacy and give out free children’s books.

Kids had the opportunity to make bookmarks with the help of Sarah Beech and her hand crank sewing machine. There was also food and a variety of books to read provided by Twice Sold Tales.

Read-a-Thon participants were excited to share in their love of reading to promote the betterment of the community.

“Getting to spend the day reading for a good cause is a great way to spend a Saturday,” said Rebecca Austin, a Farmington resident and Director of Outreach at Safe Voices.

Rebecca Austin, of Farmington, reads a book at Backroad Books’ 12-hour Read-a-Thon, a fundraising initiative to supply children in rural Franklin County with free books. Austin, who brought with her a pile of books to read, said it’s important for kids to read because it “can help expand their worlds in a way they might not have the opportunity.” Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Austin was finishing up “Leaving the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam on a tablet, though she had a pile of books next to her to suit whatever fit her fancy next.


“I’m a bit of a mood reader,” she said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to read so I brought a variety of genres.”

Sitting in the adjacent tent were Wilton-resident Courtney Norton and daughter Alex, 10.

Norton had “The Infographic Guide to American Government” by Carissa Lytle and Jara Kern in her lap with “The Feminist Bible” and the American Constitution ready to read next in her bag.

“I brought all my heavy books today,” Norton said. “It’s a good time to brush up.”

Meanwhile Alex was enthralled with a graphic novel, hardly looking up while Norton spoke.

Forced to tear herself away from the book, Alex said she was very excited when she learned about the Read-a-Thon.


“When I heard I can do this, I was like ‘yes!'” Alex exclaimed.

Norton and Alex were clearly a mother-daugther duo, sharing in their love of reading together.

“My kid reads constantly, she was incredibly excited to come here,” Norton said.

“I love that reading sucks you in,” Alex said. “You feel like you’re there, in the book.”

From left, Fern Bailey reads “Elephant and Piggie Biggie!” aloud to brothers Avery and West Marble inside the Backroad Books van at a 12-hour fundraising Read-a-Thon in downtown Farmington Saturday, May 21. The van will provide children across Franklin County with free books and a comfortable place to read them. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Stone originally came up with the idea for Backroad Books to address “book deserts,” or areas without a library, book store or reliable “access to books.”

Participants were similarly passionate to address that need in Franklin County.


“To encourage kids to read is so important,” Norton said. “We need to make reading more accessible.”

“Having books to bring to kids can help expand their worlds in a way they might not otherwise have the opportunity,” Austin said.

“I’ve never seen anything like [this initiative] before,” Sarah Marble, who brought her two children explained. “I’m excited to see this project get on its feet.”

All participants expressed their gratitude for Stone.

“We’re here to support someone who does a lot for our community,” Marble said.

“I think what Amber’s doing is really good for Franklin County, in rural communities where access to libraries and bookstores can change,” Austin said.

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