SPRING HILL — The joy of reading, notably family style, will be featured in book give-aways and inexpensive book sales, children's author talks and other related activities at Saturday's Hernando Reading Festival.
The free festival is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Nature Coast Technical High School, 4057 California St. The event moved this year from the West Hernando S.T. Foggia Branch Library to accommodate growing attendance, which organizers say has ranged from 800 to 1,200 people.
The goal of the festival is to promote reading and the family, said Denise Moen, director of HEART Literacy Council. Toddlers through age 12, and their parents or caregivers are the target audience, she said.
Authors hail from New England to the Tampa Bay area to Brooksville.
Douglas Seeman of Brooksville has published a children's story based on the real-life local farm of his in-laws. Two for One Nest tells the story of a bonded turkey hen and chicken hen that built a nest together. When one went off to eat, the other hen would gather all the eggs beneath her and mind the nest.
Seeman, a construction worker all his life, will note that he never set out to be an author, but his wife, Glenda, a teacher at Pine Grove Elementary School, and his mother-in-law demurred the story challenge and passed it on to him. He eventually accepted it because he thought the hens' relationship was such an unusual and neat tale.
"There's a really cute local flavor to the book," said Moen.
Tampa Bay area author Jay Holt will be on hand with his addition to the children's reading market, The Adventures of Tommy Tomato.
Coming from New England is MaryAnn Cocco-Leffler, with four books to her credit, written to entice children ages 4 to 9 with subjects from a summer vacation clamming on the shore to engaging tales about an elementary school principal.
"They're very colorful, beautiful illustrations," noted Moen.
Not all presenters are authors. Brian McClure, meteorologist with Bay News 9, will conduct a weather word search game. "That's a big deal," says Moen, "because they see him on TV."
Highlighting activities will be a book walk, similar to a cake walk. Kids will take steps on pictures from a book and halt when the music stops. A designated walker will pull a book title from a basket. Whoever is standing on that title will win the book.
The first 300 attendees will receive goody bags stuffed with books, pencils and coupons for ice cream.
The St. Petersburg Times will conduct a couple of games, including one in which kids pitch a rolled up newspaper onto a stoop.
A half-dozen family gift baskets will be awarded, with drawings at 11:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Hernando Today will award a two-night stay for a family of four at a resort; the drawing is at 1 p.m. Winners must be present for all drawings.
Rotary Club of Brooksville is providing a lunch of hot dog, chips and soda for $1. Friends of the Library will have a book sale, with prices ranging from $1 to several dollars for children's titles, plus local authors' books for $6 to $11, Moen said.
Major sponsors of the festival include St. Petersburg Times, Bright House Networks and Target stores.
Beth Gray can be contacted at