Kids’ book festival marks 10th year

By Peter H. Milliken


The Plant the Seed to Read Children’s Book Festival will be celebrating its 10th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Mill Creek Park’s Fellows Riverside Gardens, 123 McKinley Ave.

“Grow through Reading” will be the theme of the free event, which has been at the gardens since its inception.

Patty Zitello, festival committee chairwoman, said the event’s purpose is “to encourage the love of reading.”

She added, “We have authors that come in. We have creative arts and crafts, storytelling sessions and a variety of interactive events. We allow every child that attends to pick out their own free book.”

Authors and illustrators in attendance will be David Catrow, of the Max Spaniel series; Dar Hosta James and Wendy A. Halperin and storyteller and actor Tim Hartman.

The traveling Magic School Bus and the PBS characters Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat will attend.

Parents are invited to photograph their children with the characters. The library system’s new Booker Bear mascot also will be present.

A free snack also will be provided to the children.

Samie Winick, a festival volunteer, said the “Plant the Seed to Read” name was derived in part from the gardens location.

“It was twofold – to bring children to the gardens to experience the gardens, but then also to have that literacy tie-in,” she explained, adding that attendance averages nearly 3,000, including children, ranging from preschoolers to fifth-graders, and adults accompanying them.

“This is an event that celebrates reading and celebrates books and brings children in the doors in a variety of ways through all of the activities that we have; and when they get there, they have the opportunity to hear stories told to them. Our librarians will be there doing programs,” said Janet Loew, library communications, public relations and marketing director.

“It enriches their concept of reading. We hope to encourage them to be lifelong readers through this event,” Loew said.

The event, which has nearly 100 volunteers helping to conduct it, was started by Altrusa International of Youngstown Inc., in partnership with the park, Western Reserve PBS and the library system.

“Books have long-lasting value, and this is an event that is specifically a celebration of books and reading,” said Josephine Nolfi, the library system’s director of youth services and programming.

“All of the activities, speakers and performers tie something to books,” she said.

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