Festival fuels reading bug

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September 15, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Saturday’s reading festival is the  “grand finale” to a year of reading programs coordinated by Iola’s Becky Nilges through a $48,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Nilges hopes The Iola Family Reading Festival, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Allen County Community College, attracts hundreds of area citizens — including youths — who hunger for the written word.
Of the 16 authors featured Saturday, five are children’s authors or illustrators. The rest are award-winning adult authors. All have some connection to Kansas.
Saturday’s forum is a great way to learn about new authors and their works, Nilges said, and perhaps to reignite a spark in those who have let life’s busy-ness snuff out the reading habit.
“People tell me they don’t have time to read,” Nilges said. “If that’s the case, we need to ask what has replaced that time sitting with a book and (determine) if that’s a good alternative.”
Typically, a drop-off in reading begins in third grade through middle school, when youths become busy with sports and dance programs, Nilges said.
“Regular trips to the library fall to the wayside,” she said. “They forget the enjoyment they derived from reading. Perhaps their parents don’t see the value in reading.”
A successful program to attract young readers has been “What’s Up Wednesday,” for third to fifth graders. It’s from 3 to 4 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at Iola Public Library.
For the younger crowd, “Wack-A-Doodle Wednesdays” meets the second Wednesday of the month, also from 3 to 4 p.m. It is geared for kindergarten, first and second grades.

IT’S DIFFICULT to gauge how many people will turn out Saturday, Nilges said.
“Nothing like this has ever been done here before,” she said. “I hope people see this as something very special — to talk about reading for a day, to meet authors, have them autographs their books, find out what inspires their writing.”
Watermark Books of Wichita will have a booth selling all the books discussed Saturday. Other exhibitors will include KTWU public television, the William Allen White Children’s Book Awards and Parents as Teachers. Authors will sign books in the ACCC library throughout the day.
A schedule of presentations and book signings is on page 2.
Children’s activities will be kept to the west end of the college. Story time is “every hour on the hour,” said Leah Oswald, children’s librarian at Iola’s library. Readers include Susan Raines, Jim Gilpin, Bryan Johnson and high school drama students.
Two sessions of supervised activities will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon and again from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

THE AUTHORS and their books are as follows:
Children’s authors: Lisa Harkrader, “Airball” — The Iola Reads fall selection; Dorinda Nicholson, “Pearl Harbor Child;” Stephen Gilpin, Iola native and children’s book illustrator; Laura Manivong, “Escaping the Tiger;” Darleen Bailey Beard, “Annie Glover Is Not a Tree Lover;” Beverley Olson Buller, “Prairie Peter Pan: the Story of Mary White.”
Adult fiction authors: Nancy Pickard, “The Scent of Rain and Lightning;” Johnny Boggs, “Camp Ford” and other westerns; Max McCoy, “Damnation Road” and other historical, thriller and adventure fiction; Judith Miller, the “Daughters of Amana” series and other Christian fiction; and Jason Quinn Malott, “The Evolution of Shadows.”
Adult nonfiction: David Nichols, “A Matter of Justice,” about Eisenhower’s key role in civil rights; Joseph Collins and Suzanne Collins, “Amphibians, Reptiles and Turtles in Kansas;” James Hoy, “Flint Hills Cowboys; “Richard E. Wood, “The Survival of Rural America;” Paul Shirley, “Can I Keep My Jersey?” about his basketball career in the NBA, minor leagues and European leagues.

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