ELLSWORTH — For the 25th year, The Ellsworth American will be distributing free children’s books as part of its Joy of Reading program. But, as with almost everything in 2020, the scene will be different this year.
Instead of having a post-parade giveaway at the newspaper’s office, the books will be available at the Ellsworth Public Library this year. The change will allow for social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions.
Local children can drop by the library any time during normal operating hours to pick out a book. The books will be available until Dec. 19 (or until supplies run out). Masks are required inside the library and visitors are asked to limit their time inside the building to under 30 minutes. No more than 15 people may be in the building at one time.
Contactless curbside pickup also is available by appointment by calling the library at 667-6363. Just tell the staff about the child’s age and reading level, and they will select a book. Library staff also will leave a cart of Joy of Reading Books outside the library’s back entrance every weekday from 2-4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Launched in 1995, Joy of Reading honors former American editor Hale Joy. The program was established in his memory to promote literacy in children and to instill in them a love of reading.
Former American staffer Lisa Donovan has donated thousands of books over the years to make the event possible.
As former executive managing editor and vice president of the children’s division at Simon and Schuster, Donovan received a copy of every children’s book the company published each year. She sent her copies to the American and Mount Desert Islander, which in turn distribute the books to local children. Donovan has since retired to Southwest Harbor.