The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

“Valley Book Rally” Launches To Provide Books To Families In Need During School and Library Closures

As local nonprofits and relief organizations endeavor to provide food and supplies for families in need, a local independent bookstore and an indie publishing house rally to provide books to kids while schools and libraries are closed.

High Five Books, a Florence-based independent children’s bookstore, and Northampton-based Interlink Publishing, a 33-year-old independent publishing house, have joined forces to launch Valley Book Rally (, a crowd-sourced fundraising initiative to put books in the hands of young Pioneer Valley readers in need during the secure-in-home order.

Valley Book Rally has initially partnered with the teams that coordinate the Community Food Distribution Project, including Grow Food Northampton, the Northampton Survival Center, and Community Action Pioneer Valley. Families who sign up to participate in the Community Food Distribution Project—serviced towns below—receive free weekly bags of shelf-stable pantry items and produce, purchased mostly from local farms. The funds raised through the Valley Book Rally GoFundMe campaign will provide free, age-appropriate reading materials to food delivery bundles while supporting the Pioneer Valley’s independent book industry that is facing unexpected hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As soon as schools closed, customers reached out in concern for kids who might not have ready access to books at home,” says Lexi Walters Wright, owner of High Five Books in Florence. The children’s bookstore and creativity space opened in October 2019; it shares its location with Art Always art school. “Families wanted to know how they could support their neighbors and their children’s classmates during this unpredictable time. This fundraiser is truly community-driven.”

“More than 500 households’ nutrition needs are being met via our Community Food Distribution Project,” says Alisa Klein, executive director of Grow Food Northampton. “Distributing books will offer an entire extra layer of sustenance.”

In the words of Michel Moushabeck, founder and publisher of Interlink Publishing:

“Our thoughts are with families who are experiencing greater hardships and challenges at this time. The impact of this lockdown, especially on the mental health of children, deserves as much attention as the pandemic itself. During these difficult times, we want to help children find shelter and inspiration in literature. I am a strong believer that children’s books are the best prescription parents can administer to their kids in daily doses to ease their anxiety and distress, to educate them while schools are closed, and to keep them busy and entertained under lockdown. It’s not easy being a co-parent or a single parent. Add a global pandemic and a job loss to the mix and, all of a sudden, a parent’s job becomes so much harder. Interlink Publishing is honored to participate in this collaborative initiative and grateful to be part of such an incredibly caring and responsive community. Together we can make a difference.”

Funds raised via the Valley Book Rally campaign will be used to purchase books for every school-aged child whose family participates in the Community Food Distribution Project, with the hopes of partnering with more organizations and housing communities in the future. Titles will include those by local authors and illustrators, in addition to those published by Interlink Publishing and hand-picked by High Five Books. Lexi Walters Wright and Hannah Moushabeck, Interlink’s children’s book editor, are working directly with resident services coordinators at the various housing sites across the Pioneer Valley to match participating children’s ages with high-interest books that offer entertainment, education and parental relief during this crisis.

“Now more than ever, escaping into a story can feel crucial for kids,” Wright says. “We feel privileged to help make that happen for our community’s readers.”

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Valley Book Rally fundraising page:

COVID-19 Community Food Distribution Project:

*The Service Area currently includes the following towns: Chesterfield, Cummington, Easthampton, Florence, Goshen, Hadley, Hatfield, Haydenville, Huntington, Leeds, Middlefield, Northampton, Plainfield, South Hadley, Southampton, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington. If you live outside of these towns and need help, get in touch with Grow Food Northampton and they will connect you.

Grow Food Northampton:

High Five Books:

Interlink Publishing:

Contact: Hannah Moushabeck
Interlink Publishing
Phone: 413 230 6991

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