Hundreds of residents gathered for the Santa Clarita Public Library’s 15th Annual Family Literacy Festival in Newhall on Saturday to bring joy to the reading experience.
The theme for this year was, “Ready, Set, Read!” and there were very few areas not decorated for the event.
The committee of 10 started planning the event back in July of this year. They wanted to make sure that no age group felt left out and that there were plenty of activities for the event.
“We keep kids of each age group in mind completely,” said Senior Librarian Liza Purdy.
“Wonder Wheels” made its first appearance at the festival. Attendees were able to hop into a cab of a fire engine, explore the inside of a California Highway Patrol cruiser and learn about a Burrtec trash truck.
Arts and crafts for all age levels were scattered throughout the event as well as more than 20 local vendors, free books to take home and a Nintendo game area.
Mayor Laurene Weste opened the event by reading to attendees, “Sammy Stories – Santa Clarita’s Wonder Wheels.” The book tells the story of Sammy Clarita and his sidekick snake teaching readers the roles that vehicles play throughout the city.
Masanga Marimba performed music from Africa and Latin America utilizing a wide variety of instruments while children clapped along to the beat.
The endless fun of the day did not distract from the true message of why this event happens every year – to remind people of the community feeling that reading can bring, and the enjoyment of reading.
“We try to get the community involved as much as possible because what we’re really trying to do is support and spread the message that literacy is awesome and fun and everyone can read and enjoy reading,” said Purdy. “The benefits of being a reader are immense.”
“I think the library can offer more of a chance for kids to see reading as a fun and engaging activity,” said event cochair Aley Ungerman.
Jesse Hicks just moved back to Santa Clarita and had no idea that the literary festival was going on. Hicks’ family was walking around Newhall and once they saw the crowd, they decided to join, too.
“I thought it was not gonna be this big, it’s awesome, super cool,” said Hicks.
Hicks said developing a relationship with reading has been a struggle in the past because many schools make reading seem unpleasurable due to assigned reading and the lack of choosing what to read. Hicks was reminded through the library that reading is something to enjoy.
“It’s like an escape for a lot of people, an escape from reality,” said Hicks. “Whatever reality that is for somebody, it’s an escape and it’s my escape.”