By Roger Carswell, Director, Iola Public Library
Iola Public Library held a very successful Family Reading Festival on September 18, 2010. Sixteen author programs were presented during the 6-hour Festival, which was held on the campus of Allen County Community College. Children’s or young adult authors were Lisa Harkrader, Laura Manivong, Dorinda Nicholson, Roderick Townley, Beverley Olson Buller, and Darleen Bailey Beard. Adult fiction authors presenting were Nancy Pickard, Johnny D. Boggs, Judith Miller, Max McCoy, and Jason Quinn Malott. Adult nonfiction authors were Jim Hoy, Max McCoy, Paul Shirley, Richard E. Wood, David A Nichols, Joseph and Suzanne Collins, and Travis Taggart. Book signings followed author programs, and Watermark Books of Wichita was there to sell books by the Festival authors.
There was lots going on beside the author programs. Attendees could make book snakes, decorate bookmarks, make a “Wimpy Kid” journal, and play the Cheese Touch game. Storytimes were held during every time slot. Storybook characters in costume roamed the halls periodically—Skippyjon Jones, Spot, Lyle the Crocodile, and a Wild Thing. Reading-related exhibitors were on hand to talk to attendees and hand out information, including the Kansas Center for the Book, William Allen White Children’s Book Award, KTWU-Raising Readers/Ready to Learn, and more.
An estimated 400 people attended the Family Reading Festival; 342 actually signed the Register. Those who signed the register were nearly evenly split between adults and children. About 10% came from at least 30 miles away to attend.
The Family Reading Festival received rave reviews from attendees and authors alike. A Steering Committee of about 15 people worked hard over the course of more than a year to make the Festival a reality. They hope to see it continue as a biennial event. The Festival was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, but ongoing local funding is being sought.