Reading Festival attracts hundreds of students

Reading Festival attracts hundreds of students

Image Credit: Submitted

The East Central Ohio Educational Service Center hosted its 21st annual Reading Festival at the New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia with attendance from 655 area students on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Activity stations included balloon artists, sand castle building, temporary tattoos, a readers’ corner and a vision screening from the Warwick Lions Club. Schools from Tuscarawas County were invited to set up a table based on the overall event theme, “Reading ‘Shore’ Is Fun,’’ which included a table activity. Judges awarded Quaker Digital Academy the winning table to receive the annual traveling trophy.

“At East Central Ohio ESC, our mission is to help schools help students,” superintendent Randy Lucas said. “This is one of our biggest events of the year. We know how important reading and literacy is to academic achievement, and that is why we do these types of events. We want to make sure that families and the community come out and enjoy the day and get a free book.”

If children stopped at 12 of the 16 tables on their map, they were entered into the raffle for the grand prizes: a family pass to Uhrichsville Water Park and a tablet. Door prizes were announced hourly and included a variety of board games and toys.

Local organizations that set up tables include Takin’ It to the Schools (Ohio Guidestone), Clayland, Lions Club, Claymont Public Library, Dover Phila Federal Credit Union, Dover Public Library, Help Me Grow, Society for Equal Access, Tuscarawas County Public Library, Tuscarawas County Job & Family Services, YMCA, The Village Network, J&M Mentoring, Tuscarawas Family & Children First Council, ECO Print Center, New Philadelphia City Schools, Claymont City Schools, Buckeye Career Center, and Quaker Digital Academy.

“The annual Reading Festival is one of our biggest events of the year with the goal of putting books in the hands of students throughout Tuscarawas County,” said Sarah Spies, ECOESC programming and communications coordinator. “It’s always such a joy to see kids get so excited about reading as they pick up their new book or engage with their favorite characters like Pete the Cat or Paddington Bear.”

Community members volunteered for a variety of jobs during the event, some even donning character costumes to take pictures with the kids. Character appearances included Paddington Bear, Pete the Cat and Pout Pout Fish.

Ryan Flaherty, a student at Buckeye Career Center, walked around the mall as Paddington Bear. “I like volunteering because it gives me a chance to give back to the community and make kids happy,” Flaherty said. “Whenever the kids feel happy, I feel happy.”