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Claire’s Day event starts new chapter

Annual celebration of children’s books — and a child — next week

Fourteen years after organizing a small local book festival to honor the life of her daughter, Julie Rubini said Claire’s Day has grown into more than she ever thought it could be.

The annual festival is the largest free family book festival in northwest Ohio, attracting about 6,000 people each year. It aims to inspire children and families to be lifelong readers through exposure to a variety of literary opportunities and experiences.

“It’s incredibly heartwarming to know our daughter — who left this world entirely too soon — because of her passion for reading has touched so many families and made a difference in their lives,” said Mrs. Rubini, a resident of Maumee and finalist for the 2015 Jefferson Award. “We are thrilled to see the progression of the organization.”

In April, Claire’s Day Inc., established to honor the life of Claire Lynsey Rubini, who passed away from a heart condition in 2000 at age 10, merged with Read for Literacy after a yearlong partnership. Under the merger, the program will be able to reach more people, Jeanette Hrovatich, executive director of Read for Literacy and Claire’s Day, said.

“The merger allows for more literacy programs in more communities. We went from being a Lucas County program, to serving eight counties,” Ms. Hrovatich said. “The program started in Maumee schools, and is now partnered with more than 25 schools throughout the region. Through all of our events, we’re able to reach about 25,000 people each year.”

The Claire’s Day foundation operates on a budget of $60,000 a year and hosts four events annually, including the Claire’s Day book festival, author and illustrator school visits, Claire’s Night, and Claire’s Award for Reading Excellence, or C.A.R.E.

This year, Claire’s Day book festival is May 16 at the Maumee Branch Library. The free festival will feature interactive presentations and book signings by children’s book authors and illustrators, hands-on activities based on the books, and live music. C.A.R.E. awards will be presented to about 800 students during 12 ceremonies at the festival.

“The C.A.R.E. awards recognizes struggling readers who have increased their reading skills, bringing them up to grade level,” said Diana Bush, chairman of Claire’s Day events. “Before the partnership, about 400 students received the award each year. Together, we’re able reach more readers and recognize them for their efforts.”

Claire’s Night will be held May 15. The adult-only party will feature a meet-and-greet with Claire’s Day authors and illustrators, hors d’oeuvres, festive beverages, book signings, and live and silent auctions. Tickets are $50.

Tickets and more details are available at clairesday.org and readforliteracy.org. Tickets are also available by calling 419-242-7323.

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: rmullen@theblade.com, 419-343-3299.

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