Several authors and illustrators of children’s books will be in Maumee on Saturday to celebrate the 12th annual Claire’s Day in memory of Claire Lynsey Rubini, who loved reading, story telling, dancing, and craft making.
The site of the annual free family book festival is the Maumee Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, where registration begins at 9 a.m. In 2000, Claire died of a heart condition at age 10.
Claire’s Day has expanded to become a much-anticipated event that both adults and children anxiously await. Though this will be the first year the organization’s officials count how many people are in attendance, executive director Heather Gallant said several thousand are expected and it could be as many as 5,000.
Boosting that number are the families and children who are at the center of the highlight of the day when the Claire’s Awards for Reading Excellence are distributed.
“We’re giving out 421 C.A.R.E. awards, so 421 of those children will come with their families,” Mrs. Gallant said.
The effort acknowledges youngsters who make the greatest reading improvement in their grade levels. The parents of the little girl for whom the organization was named, Brad and Julie Rubini, as well as Maumee Mayor Richard Carr, will appear at the awards ceremonies. Music will be provided by Wilson Lake and the Rock Bass.
The purpose of Claire’s Day is to encourage children and families to be life-long readers, she said.
“What we’re trying to do is encourage people to find the joy in reading and have the sense of discovery and fun in reading,” said Mrs. Gallant, who has led the agency since September.
“I’ve worked for a lot of nonprofit organizations; working for Claire’s Day, I get positive responses. It’s a wonderful organization, a wonderful festival.
“After Claire’s Day, children who were not interested in reading become interested in reading. They get excited about the characters brought to life by the authors and illustrators. Their passion and creativity come to life when it comes to the festival, and parents and adults love that too, seeing their kids get excited about reading.”
The celebrity reader for Claire’s Day is Romules Durant, interim superintendent for Toledo Public Schools.
Other distinguished guests are authors Rhonda Gowler Greene, Valiska Gregory, Kristin Nitz, Elizabeth Raum, Lisa Wheeler, and Cinda Williams Chima; illustrators Bruce Langton and John Manders, and authors and illustrators Mark Crilley and Betsy Snyder.
Youngsters will be challenged to show their creativity by making crafts, and teenagers will be asked to express themselves with activities inspired by these authors’ books. Of course, time will also be set aside for book signing. Refreshments provided by culinary arts students at Washington Local Schools will be on sale.
Adults can meet the authors and illustrators at 7 p.m. today in the Main Library in downtown Toledo. Tickets are $65. For more information, call 567-712-1180, or contact director@CLAIRESDAY.ORG.