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River Read Literature Festival '05
March 10, 2005 arrived and the second annual River Read Literature Festival took place at Park University. Once again, fourth and fifth graders from the Park Hill School district had the experience of meeting and learning more about authors from around the Missouri area. A total of 664 elementary students and accompanying adults (teachers and parents) attended the event. Fifteen local and regional authors and illustrators presented their work and their craft. For a complete list of this year’s authors, along with references to books they have published, go to Authors Booklist.
Many people helped to make River Read 2005 a success. Assistance with the festival was provided by 51 volunteers, including University faculty, staff and students. In addition, personnel from Environmental Services, Public Safety, Audiovisual Services, Student Activities, Library Services, University Advancement, and Food Service were essential to planning and presenting the festival. River Read 2005 was coordinated by Ms. Susan Schank, library/media specialist at Southeast Elementary School in the Park Hill School District, and by Dr. Kathy Lofflin, director of the Dorothy Harper Watson Literacy Center at Park University.
Among the authors and illustrators presenting were Laura Huliska-Beith, who has illustrated many children’s books and written some of her own. Huliska-Beith, in addition to writing and illustrating her own books such as The Book of Bad Ideas, has illustrated many books for other authors such as Poetry for Young People: Edward Lear by Edward Mendelson, and The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill. Her illustrations are all high spirited, colorful and often humorous, perfect for catching the attention of young readers.
A picture of the front cover if one of the books Laura Huliska-Beith has illustrated>
Another presenter was David Nieves, who is an accomplished biologist who takes photographs for and writes his own books as well as entertaining by showing off the reptiles he studies. Nieves, who keeps many reptiles at his own home for study, also travels to others countries to photograph reptiles in the wild and in captivity. He has arranged several of his photos into his books Reptiles Up Close and More Reptiles Up Close. Nieves says he has plans for a third book and is currently saving up pictures for it.
A picture of David Nieves showing one of his reptiles (Alligator Snapping Turtle) at the River Read Festival 2005.
The students who attended got to learn about the writing process from the varied and sometimes eccentric points of view of the authors such as Roderick Townley, the imaginative author of the unique and popular book series that started with The Great Good Thing. The Great Good Thing is about a book by the same name that has characters in it who await the day that someone will read their story again so that they can act it out. The book’s main character, Sylvie, can’t help looking up at the readers when she is acting out her part; Sylvie soon discovers she can enter the dreams and memories of the people who read her book and have more adventures with them. Townley does not think of his book as a fantasy, but another way of looking at our perception of literature; characters in books can seem to “come alive” when we read them, and some people often wonder what characters are doing when their book is not being read, and even if the book is lost or destroyed, as it happens in The Great Good Thing, those characters can live on in our memories.
The front cover of The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
River Read’s purpose is to provide children with a positive experience with good literature, and to let them meet and talk with real authors, and get a glimpse of their craft. Seeing authors as real people who work hard at what they do may stimulate the children to think of themselves as potential writers and illustrators, and to try their hand at their own projects. Along with that, a love of reading, language and literature may grow. The children also got a taste of college life as they attended sessions across campus.