Livingstone College holds 29th annual Children’s Book Festival
By Andie Foley
Sights, sounds and smells all worked together to create an atmosphere of excitement on Saturday at Livingstone College’s 29th annual Children’s Book Festival.
At one corner of the expansive lawn stood two mammoth inflatables: a bouncy house and slide. Further inward were booths manned by students, staff, fraternities and sororities, each offering their own activity or snack.
Other, more central attractions were Tyca the Clown, who crafted balloon animals and sculptures for the taking, as well as storyteller Linda Gorham.
But a cluster of key tables rested further still, all covered with brand new books for the taking. Each year, the festival offers two free books for children from birth to 18 alongside the aforementioned, similarly free entertainment.
“This is a community outreach effort offered by the school each year where we’re working to instill love and appreciation for books,” said festival coordinator Deborah Johnson. “We know that literacy is an issue in our area.”
Through the event, Johnson said festival organizers and partners were hoping to impart three truths: that children must read, that reading is fun and that every child needs books of his or her own.
“We don’t want people to just come, get the books and go home,” she said. “We want them to participate.”
Opportunities for participation abounded, of course. Refreshments like popcorn, shaved ice, hotdogs, chips and drinks were intermingled with engaging activities that had attendees in smiles and fits of laughter.
Sigma Gamma Rho sorority gave young learners the chance to “Pie a Poodle” for each math question answered correctly. The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority helped students decorate bookmarks with stickers and markers, their creations to be put to work in new books received by mid-afternoon.
“The turnout’s been good,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha member Stephanie Morgan, adding that the group had given out of pink paper by midday due to the number of attendees. “The kids are excited, which makes us excited: these kids are actually wanting to read.”
Carmen Harper, a graduate of Livingstone College herself, brought her nieces and nephews to enjoy the festivities: 5-year-old Sanai Wilder, 1-year-old Eden Wilder and 9-year old Zion Wilder.
She was also joined by a former sorority sister’s daughter, Makenzy Tucker, there to help out with the youngsters.
Harper said her experience attending the festival dated back to her time as a student, continuing on as an alumnus and later as an employee of the school.
“It’s always a fun time,” she said. “I like the experience, seeing the kids get to enjoy everything it has to offer and knowing it all works to promote literacy. We’ll certainly be back.”