Literacy festival shows children that Reading Rocks

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Plant the Seed to Read literacy festival had different events in the rooms throughout the ground floor and lower level of the Davis Center. They had readers, storytellers, activities, crafts and books for the children. Pictured, the Leonardo Rockin' and Reading program took place in the Kidston Classroom.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Plant the Seed to Read event has a different theme every year. This year's theme was Reading Rocks, so the organizers invited a musician and had different activities, crafts and stories about rock music and rocks. Pictured, Marlan Donegan met Pearlette Wigley as Lady Rock from Woodstock.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Plant the Seed to Read program at the Davis Center featured a number of guest readers, including the PLYMC Executive Director Aimee Fifarek and Western Reserve Public Media’s President and Chief Executive Officer Trina Cutter. Pictured, Executive Director Aaron Young read "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?" by Bill Martin, Jr.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Altrusa International of Youngstown, the PLYMC, Mill Creek MetroParks and Western Reserve Public Media organized the 12th annual Plant the Seed to Read festival on April 14. Pictured are Aaliyah, Drequan and Alecia with Buddy the Dinosaur from the PBS program "Dinosaur Train."

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The organizers of the Plant the Seed to Read program invited storytellers and guest readers. Pictured is author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand, who has written children's books like "Bear and Bunny." He did a presentation about his early life growing up in Ohio.

By ZACK SHIVELY

zshively@vindy.com

D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center hosted the 12th Annual “Plant the Seed to Read” children’s book festival on April 14.

Four organizations, Altrusa International of Youngstown, the PLYMC, Mill Creek MetroParks and Western Reserve Public Media, have planned the event together each of its 12 years. This year’s theme, “Reading Rocks!,” focused on rock music and dinosaurs.

“It’s a true book festival about the love of books and the love of reading,” said Deborah Liptak, Development Director for the PLYMC. She was on the founding committee for the event spoke highly of the literacy event.

The event included photo opportunities in Fellows Riverside Gardens, the PLYMC pop-up library van, storytellers, guest readers and activities. Each child received a free book, a schedule for PBS programming and coloring pages.

Patty Zitello, the chair of the festival and member of Altrusa International of Youngstown, founded the event 12 years ago. The organization focuses on literacy in the area, and reached out to the three other organizations to be a part of the event. She called the their work a “united effort” between all four groups.

The 2018 festival had the second highest attendance in the years of the event. She accounts the continued success of the program to the partnership between the organizations.

Western Reserve Public Media invited Buddy the Dinosaur from the PBS program “Dinosaur Train” to the event. Children took pictures with the character in the Kidston Pavilion in the gardens.

The groups also brought in children’s author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand who gave a presentation in the Antonucci Library. He spoke about his life growing up. He brought a number of his books with him, such as “I’m a Duck” and “Bear and Bunny.”

The library, public media and park had guest readers at the event. The PLYMC brought in Executive Director Aimee Fifarek and a handful of different librarians to read during the event. Western Reserve Public Media’s President and Chief Executive Officer Trina Cutter and Mill Creek’s Aaron Young also read stories to the children.

Storytellers Tim Hartman, Michael Perry, Barb Root, Nancy Wallace, Jocelyn Dabney and Rick Shilling brought their stories to life with emotion and dramatic flair in rooms throughout the Davis Center. The Kidston Classroom also had presentations from the OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology the musical storytelling program Leonardo Rockin’ and Reading.

The lower level lobby of the Davis Center also included tables with crafts and games on them from groups such as Alta Head Start, Green Youngstown and The Vindicator. The library had their mascot Booker Bear at Pearlette Wigley as Lady Rock from Woodstock for pictures in the lobby.

Zitello said that she and the committee begin working on the plans for next year’s “Plant the Seed to Read” festival right after the festival ends. They begin with a new theme and build on that.

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