BROOKSVILLE — Inspiring children to read is something most parents and educators strive to achieve. And that's one of the goals — along with some fun — of the annual Hernando County Reading Festival, which takes place Saturday at Nature Coast Technical High School.
"The reading festival is great day for the children and the community," said event chairwoman Sophia Watson, supervisor of the Hernando County schools' adult community education and volunteer programs.
Along with food, raffles and games, this year's event will showcase three area authors and an illustrator: Cheryl Campbell, author of Darling the Curly Tailed Raindoe; Lynn S. Combes, author of A Garden Full of Butterflies, and author Danielle Viverito and illustrator Michelle Kohlas of My Bully and Me.
Watson said this year's authors come recommended by the Hernando County Public Library System, following a recent local authors showcase.
"And to have access to an illustrator is exciting," Watson said. "It is a huge industry, and it will be great for the children to have a chance to meet (Kohlas)."
This year's festival has a few new additions, including a Fancy Nancy tea party. It will include activities connected to the Fancy Nancy book series, and a petite Fancy Nancy library will be raffled.
And while the girls are making Fancy Nancy "I Love Reading" tiaras, the boys will have a chance to meet the Spring Hill Power Rangers.
Returning festival favorites include Jiggleman (11:15 to 11:45 a.m.), the popular Read Across America Parade and Dr. Seuss birthday party (12:30 p.m.), and the Black Light Theater presentation of Puppetry Pride (1:15 to 1:45 p.m.).
"The parade is an amazing hit," Watson said. "And the kids just love the puppetry show."
Watson said the puppet show is made possible through the efforts of Central High School teacher Ruth Markham.
"The kids absolutely love the show, and we appreciate her so much," Watson said.
Watson said the festival is a community effort that relies heavily on volunteers. It is offered through the combined efforts of the Hernando County School System/HEART Literacy, the Brooksville Rotary Club, Friends of the Library, the Hernando County Council PTA, the Spring Hill Domino Club and the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties.
"The amount of volunteers who make this happen is huge," Watson said. "We couldn't do it without them."