Above, Kyle Rubini, second from right, smiles as her brother Ian holds up a photo of them with their sister Claire during the annual Claire’s Day at the Maumee branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. The 15th annual event aimed at inspiring children to read was Saturday.
The Rubini family of Maumee couldn’t have imagined how successful Claire’s Day would become.
The annual festival promoting reading celebrated its 15th year Saturday at the Maumee branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
Claire Rubini, in whose memory the event was created, died of a heart condition in 2000 at age 10.
“She was a voracious reader and storyteller,” Claire’s father, Brad Rubini, said. “I think she would have loved this.”
The organizers, Claire’s Day Inc. and Read for Literacy, expected this year’s event to attract 6,000 people. Combined with authors’ visits to area schools, more than 20,000 individuals will be impacted by Claire’s Day this year.
“We’re really ecstatic with the progress, the programs they are doing,” Mr. Rubini said.
The event included appearances by authors and illustrators, public readings, workshops, and crafts. Perhaps the largest indicator of growth is in the number of children recognized for their reading efforts.
Hannah Herrling, 10, checks out the books in the Ready to Read early literary outreach van.
Claire’s siblings, Kyle and Ian Rubini, helped present many of the 1,050 certificates for Claire’s Awards for Reading Excellence to area students who had been nominated by their teachers. The pair gave high-fives to recipients as they walked to the stage.
Last year, 800 awards were given.
“It’s amazing,” Kyle Rubini, 24, Claire’s younger sister, said. “We had 25 CARE award winners on the first Claire’s Day, and now we’re awarding over 1,000. How crazy is that?”
Ian Rubini, 22, Claire’s younger brother, said children’s smiles upon receiving the award for reading reminded him of Claire.
“I feel like I see a little bit of her in all these kids,” he said.
Shannon Griesinger of Toledo said she was proud that her 9-year-old daughter Kendra, a third-grader at Holland Elementary School, received a certificate. She noted Kendra has struggled with reading and has worked hard to get better.
“I think it’s awesome that they do things like this,” Ms. Griesinger said. “I think it will encourage her even more to try harder.”
The elder Mr. Rubini can empathize. He always had a difficult time reading, and finally discovered he is dyslexic when a 7-year-old Claire caught him saying words backwards when he was reading aloud to her.
“Reading is a struggle for me, but I read almost every single night,” Mr. Rubini said.
Ed Kaser, principal at Hawkins Elementary School in Toledo, said it’s important to recognize students’ accomplishments, particularly for those who may struggle more than their peers.
“It’s great to give kids some type of recognition for their efforts who don’t receive it in other venues like honors awards and things,” he said.
He also appreciated the focus on books and not electronics, something the Rubini family believes is important.
“Unfortunately, I would say it’s too easy to give a child the cell phone to keep them busy than to sit down and spend a half hour reading and pointing at pictures,” the elder Mr. Rubini said. “There is something to be said about the power of a book and imagination. [A book] makes you imagine more than a game will.”
All of the award recipients received a voucher for a free book of their choice from one of the 15 authors at the event, including Claire’s mother, Julie Rubini. Attendees could also earn free books by completing a checklist of activities at the event.
A number of area businesses and organizations supported Claire’s Day. The Blade sponsored the teen area and writing tent, including the publication of a journal with 20 short stories and poems by area teens, and also helped sponsor the CARE awards.
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