JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania – This festival will take local youth on a great reading adventure.
The 13th Annual Children’s Book Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 2-3 at Bottle Works, 411 Third Ave. in the Cambria City neighborhood of Johnstown.
The two-day festival, presented by The Learning Lamp and 1st Summit Bank, is aimed at children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The annual event connects nationally renowned authors and illustrators with local children. The aim of the festival is to provide a quality interactive literacy experience.
Every child who attends will receive a free, age-appropriate book from First Book, a national reading bank.
Kerri Belardi, book festival organizer and director of communications for The Learning Lamp, said organizers were eager to welcome people back for in-person activities after COVID-19 concerns canceled the festival in over the past two years.
“We’ve taken extra steps to make this the biggest and best festival we’ve ever had,” she said.
“I think it shows in the caliber of writers and illustrators we have this year.”
Belardi said the festival is an opportunity for children to establish a love of books and reading.
“It’s a great way for them to come to the festival and meet these award-winning authors and illustrators, and they can see themselves in these people because we were extremely focused on cultural diversity at this festival,” she said. declared.
“We want children and families to realize the importance of reading and the arts.”
The festival was made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and its regional partner, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.
One of the lead writers will be Eric Litwin, a New York Times #1 best-selling author and musician best known for the original “Pete the Cat” series, as well as “The Nuts” and “Groovy Joe.”
His books have sold over 13 million copies and won 26 literary awards.
Litwin merges literacy and music to help young learners through “The Learning Groove”, a music program he co-created that enables children to reach their musical potential and helps them develop their foundations of language and reading.
He will give a presentation at 2 p.m. on April 2, followed by a book signing at 2:45 p.m.
On April 3 at 1 p.m., Litwin will present a writing workshop. At 2 p.m., there will be an author presentation, again followed by a dedication at 2:45 p.m.
Don Tate, award-winning author and illustrator and founding host of The Brown Bookshelf, a blog dedicated to books for young black readers, will also be in attendance.
He is a member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign created to address the lack of mainstream narratives in children’s literature.
Tate designs for all kids, but especially kids of color, adventures in reading, writing, illustrating and storytelling.
His books include “Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barne,” “Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters,” “Whoosh! Johnson” and “Roto and Roy: Helicopter Heroes.
Tate will have an author presentation at 10:30 a.m. on April 2, followed by a book signing at 11:15 a.m.
At 12:45 p.m., he will offer a writing and illustration workshop.
At 12:15 p.m. on April 3, he will give a presentation, followed by a dedication at 1 p.m.
Luke Flowers, illustrator of more than 60 children’s books, including “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” by Fred Rogers, will be on hand.
He has notably written and illustrated the “Moby Shinobi” series with Scholastic, which has sold more than a million copies since the publication of the first book five years ago, and “Labyrinth: ABC Storybook” by Jim Henson.
On April 2 at 11:30 a.m., Flowers will present a writing and illustration workshop. At 12:15 p.m., he will give an author presentation, followed by a dedication at 1 p.m.
He will give a presentation at 10:30 a.m. on April 3, followed by a book signing at 11:15 a.m.
Wes Tank, a popular multimedia performance artist, will have a dancing head as he raps goofy rhymes from children’s literature to hip-hop beats that youngsters and parents should love via StoryRaps on the streaming app for children Kidoodle.TV and YouTube.
Tank will host a rap storytelling workshop at 10:45 a.m., followed by a rhyming and rapping workshop at 2:15 p.m. on April 2-3.
To add to the creativity of the festival, Joe Wos, an internationally acclaimed cartoonist from Pittsburgh who began drawing mazes at the age of 7, will lead drawing and storytelling workshops at 1:30 p.m. on April 2 and 3. .
“I think it’s going to be an exciting weekend, not just for the narrative part of things, but for books and the arts in general,” Belardi said.
Throughout the weekend, tables of local and regional authors will be set up, where participants can meet authors and buy their books.
There will be themed arts and crafts activities, including an art installation project with children’s handprints that will be exhibited at The Learning Lamp; a range of community providers; a sale of new and used books; and food trucks.
The bookmark contest is back, which will feature hand-drawn creations made from crayons, markers or paint by students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Festival-goers will be able to vote for their favorites and winners in each age group will receive a basket full of age-appropriate books.
Belardi said she expects to have more than 200 exposed bookmarks.
“When the kids are invested in the whole process of having something in the festival, they’re excited to come and show their family what they’ve done,” she said.
Belardi said the festival usually draws around 3,500 people throughout the two-day event.
“Our goal is to get kids excited about reading and books, and it’s a great way for families to choose books together while encouraging their kids to read, and to read to them,” said she declared.
Entrance to the festival is free.
Masks are recommended.
For more information and a full calendar of events, visit www.thelearninglamp.org and click on the “For families” tab.
Find the festival’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CBFJohnstown.