Claire’s Day celebrates ninth yearWritten by Colleen Kennedy | | email@example.com
“Claire’s Day” is a family-oriented book festival that began as a tribute to Brad and Julie Rubini’s daughter, Claire, who died from a heart condition when she was just 10 years old.
The festival, May 15 at the Maumee Public Library, features storytellers, local celebrity readers, live music and book-related hands-on activities. The event will also feature nationally-renowned children’s book authors and illustrators such as Shutta Crum, Christine Petrell Kallevig, Shelley Pearsall, Christina Wald and Michael P. Spradlin.
The ninth annual event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is hosted by Claire’s Day Inc., a nonprofit organization. President and founder Julie Rubini said the event has grown significantly since its beginning, noting that this year’s planning committee consists of 30 volunteers, in addition to the 100 volunteers that will help service the festival’s events.
“What began as a smaller, one-day book festival has grown to now a whole week of events including school visits by participating authors and illustrators,” Rubini said.
Author and illustrator visits occur during the week leading up to Claire’s Day and stretch to schools as far away as Swanton, Genoa and Bowling Green.
But local illustrator and storyteller Wil Clay said the event is growing even larger than its designated week stating that his first school visit is May 3, almost two weeks prior to Claire’s Day.
Clay, who has been illustrating books for nearly 20 years, has participated in each of the nine Claire’s Day festivals.
“This is great for preparing our young people for the future,” Clay said. “The key to success is reading and that little girl Claire had such a love for reading. She was an ideal poster child.”
New to the festival this year is the Teen Café, a space that features authors who cater primarily to teen readers rather than the adolescent readership the majority of the festival is geared toward.
Since Claire would have turned 20 this year and several of her childhood friends still participate in the event, the committee felt it necessary to include authors and activities that appeal to a slightly older audience.
“We thought it would be cool to have a place for teens to learn to create and be involved in what Claire’s Day has evolved into,” Rubini said. “And that is no longer just an elementary-age book festival; it is for kids of all ages.”
Throughout the day, there will also be six ceremonies to honor approximately 300 young readers with Claire’s Awards for Reading Excellence, or C.A.R.E. awards.
The awards go to individuals who have been nominated by school officials for showing significant improvements in their reading abilities within the last year.
“The C.A.R.E. award is very unique in that, instead of most awards that focus on the best, this award focuses on the most improved reader,” said Candice Harrison, a first-year volunteer for Claire’s Day. “Especially when you have a student who struggles, it’s so encouraging for them to receive acknowledgement for an improvement. They may not be the best reader in their class, but they’re still being honored.”
Each C.A.R.E. recipient receives a certificate recognizing their achievement and a $20 coupon to purchase a book from the event.
Rubini said while she realizes what a gift Claire’s Day has been to the community, she is considering stepping down as co-chairs after the 2011 festival.
“It’s been a wonderful, joyous remembrance of our daughter; it’s been a huge factor in our healing as a family; and it’s enabled us to move forward remembering her for the kid and wonderful reader she was,” Rubini said. “Therefore, it has accomplished so much more than we ever anticipated.”
In addition to Claire’s Day, Claire’s Night is an evening event for adults to meet the guest authors and have food and drinks the night before the festival. Claire’s Night is held at the Main Library Downtown.
Tickets are $65.
All proceeds go toward Claire’s Day events and grants given to participating schools to support reading programs.
For more information, visit the website www.ClairesDay.org.
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