By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Area groups got together to plant a seed at Fellows Riverside Gardens.
But it wasn’t a flower seed. The event Saturday at the Davis Center in the gardens at Mill Creek MetroParks brought together authors, illustrators, storytellers, celebrity readers and more to “Plant the Seed to Read” in children.
“It’s just a wonderful way to encourage children to read — families to read together — which is important,” said Patty Zitello, The Altrusa Club of Youngstown’s chairwoman for the event. The Altrusa Club was one sponsor of the free event.
The various activities at the fifth annual event were meant to show children that reading is fun, she added.
Storytellers and readers shared books with the children, the Cat in the Hat posed for pictures, and children made their own healthful snack using pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Children had their faces painted and their hands rubber-stamped and decorated with temporary tattoos. Free items such as bookmarks, flashing heart-shaped buttons that proclaimed “I love my library,” and stickers also were distributed.
And every child who attended received a free book, Zitello said.
Other sponsors of the event included Mill Creek MetroParks, the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, and WesternReserve PBS television.
Carrie Pasquale of Boardman attended with her three daughters, Serena, 9; Sienna, 4; and Sophia, 3, for the first time.
“The kids got to pick a free book, which they loved,” Pasquale said. “They’ve had a good time.”
When choosing her free book, Serena was happy to see “Officer Buckle and Gloria” by Peggy Rathmann, a book she wanted to purchase at a recent school book fair, but it was sold out.
“I thought it was really, really funny,” she said.
Sienna isn’t reading on her own yet, but she enjoys having her big sister read to her.
Serena’s fine with that.
“Reading’s my favorite,” the fourth-grader said.
The Austintown family attended last year and had so much fun they returned.
“They seem to enjoy it,” Dominique Valley said about her two children, Triston, 6 and Alayna, 2.
“I think the activities they have here are wonderful for the kids.”
Triston had a bunny painted on his face and chose a “Captain Underpants” book, from the series by Dav Pikey.
He said it was fun choosing a book from the large selection. The kindergartner is learning to read.
Alayna was fascinated by the Cat in the Hat, barely taking her eyes off him once he appeared. The line for photos with the Dr.Seuss character was long, but the kids’ dad, Steven Valley, waited in line so they could meet him.
“The kids have been so polite and so interested, I’ve been really impressed,” said Rebecca Barnhouse, author of “The Coming of the Dragon” and “The Book of the Maidservant.”
“It’s really nice to see kids so excited by books.”
This was the first year the Youngstown author and Youngstown State University professor participated in the event.