Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando County Reading Festival aims to inspire

BROOKSVILLE — The key word for Saturday's Hernando County Reading Festival is "inspiration."

Organizers of the annual event hope to inspire children to read, inspire children to write and inspire families to spend time reading and writing together, explains Mary GaNun, programming specialist for the Hernando County Library System.

"We want to show how fun and interesting reading can be," GaNun said of the free event.

And from snakes to storytellers, this year's lineup has something for everyone.

Starting at 10:30 a.m., John Storms will present his "World of Reptiles" show, featuring a 15-foot albino Burmese python named Jessie and a 90-pound alligator snapping turtle named Snappy.

"We educate our audience. We help children and adults develop an appreciation for animals and the environment," said Storms, who also totes along a menagerie of lizards, snakes and turtles.

The festival promises something for "kids of all ages," said Justa Bozman, literacy secretary for the HEART Adult Literacy Program. HEART is an acronym for Hernando's Education for Adult Readers in Training.

"We want to encourage reading for all families," said Bozman.

The HEART program focuses on developing literacy skills in adults, whether they are learning English as a second language, or simply never acquired the skill.

While Saturday's three-hour festival is primarily geared toward children, the adult literacy program hopes to reach out and inspire parents who need help learning to read, too.

"If we reach one person, it was worth it," Bozman said.

The event will feature two Florida writers: Nancy Stewart, author of Sea Turtle Summer and 10-year-old author Madeline Joan Wilks, who wrote Yellow Dot, Red Dot.

"We hope our young author will inspire children to write their own books," said GaNun.

Both writers will be available to sign books and answer questions.

At 11:30 a.m., a high-energy and interactive performance by the CoREADian, also known as Jiggleman, is scheduled. And, finally, a performance by storyteller and puppeteer Windell Campbell at 12:30 p.m.

The first 300 children to attend will receive a goody bag featuring a book and fun giveaways.

Last year, 665 children attended the festival, and this year organizers expect even more, said Bozman.

She said the festival is also a good place to stock up children's bookcases with gently used books.

The Friends of the Library will host a children's book sale, with proceeds going to help fund the many free programs offered by the Hernando County Library System.

"Everything is geared toward education and reading," Bozman said. "We offer a lot of games and entertainment."

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