Incorporated in 2006, IRW grew out of Port In A Storm Bookstore on Mount Desert Island and the vision of its owner Jan Coates to venture beyond the walls of the bookstore to bring books and their authors and illustrators together with children where they lived. In the early days, IRW worked with two island schools and distributed just over 50 books to excited children.

Now, IRW partners with 26 schools and communities spanning 3,000 square miles of coastline and provides upwards of 40 school programs annually - along with over 2,600 books - to Maine children. Invited authors and illustrators visit classrooms with IRW, each sharing a personal perspective on reading, writing, drawing, and the creative process. These visits help young readers make meaning out of story content and apply what they learn to their understanding of themselves and to the world around them.

IRW has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grants for The Call of the Wild by Jack London and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Over 1,200 readers of all ages across seven islands read the books and participated in a myriad of related events. At the center of the effort were libraries and schools, as well as many other local organizations. These events brought a compelling story to life and neighbors and communities together around an educational family fun experience with books.