2016-03-25 / Community

Book festival awakens reading

By Alicia Doyle
Special to the Acorn

Channeling the most recent “Star Wars” film to hit the big screen, the Simi Valley Public Library is forming its 2016 Family Book Festival around the theme “Awaken Your Power with Reading.”

The event, slated for Sat., April 9, gets its motto from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and will feature two professional writers. One of them is Michael Kogge, author of “Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know.”

“We decided to do a ‘Star Wars’ theme this year because ‘Star Wars’ is on everybody’s mind,” said Jodi Regan, the library’s volunteer and outreach coordinator.

She expects 1,000 guests to attend the book festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 9. The Simi Valley Friends of the Library is presenting the event in conjunction with the Simi Valley Public Library.

“The ultimate goal is reading, and we want to instill a love of reading in all ages, not just kids,” Regan said. “Reading and literacy and learning doesn’t stop when you graduate high school, so we want to encourage people to continue the pursuit of knowledge through reading.” Champions of reading


THE FORCE RUNS DEEP—From left, Simi Valley brothers Adam Hammon, 17, and Shawn, 22, will portray Han Solo and Luke Skywalker during the upcoming book festival at the Simi Valley Public Library. 
Courtesy of Julia Hammon THE FORCE RUNS DEEP—From left, Simi Valley brothers Adam Hammon, 17, and Shawn, 22, will portray Han Solo and Luke Skywalker during the upcoming book festival at the Simi Valley Public Library. Courtesy of Julia Hammon At 11 a.m., Kogge, who also writes a monthly feature for Star Wars Insider magazine, will discuss two of his books in additon to “Everything You Need to Know”: the junior novel “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the original companion novel, “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice—Cross Fire.”

“I’m really excited to go out and champion reading,” said Kogge, a Sierra Madre, Calif., resident.

“When I write, I don’t write down to children,” the author said. “I make sure my word choice and sentence structure is a little shorter, but I don’t try to pander, especially with something like ‘Star Wars,’ which is so strong it’s going to excite kids anyway. It’s an opportunity and an incentive to read stronger and I take that as a great responsibility.”

At 1 p.m., Kirsten W. Larson, a former NASA employee, will talk about nonfiction books she’s written for “The Freaky Nature Series,” one of which focuses on the superpowers of animals.

“Kids are familiar with Spiderman and Wolverine,” she said. “There’s a frog in South Africa that shoots out claws from its back feet when it’s threatened, kind of like a Wolverine frog. There are also spiders that spin huge webs that can span large rivers and catch things as big as birds and bats.

“My intention is to introduce kids to all the fascinating parts of the natural world and to get them excited to read about these things,” Larson said.

Navigating the reading galaxy

Children at the book festival will receive a Jedi Passport upon arrival. They can participate in activities offered at stations throughout the library, and those who complete all stations will earn the rank of Jedi Master.

One of the stations will be manned by Cub Scout Pack 3689 in Simi Valley. The Scouts will bring a pinewood derby track called “Space Racers.”

Children can make their own bookmarks at another station manned by the Boys & Girls Club of Simi Valley.

Kids can also get a temporary hair tattoo of the Death Star and other “Star Wars” images and make a BB-8 droid out of paper plates.

“A woman portraying Princess Leah will also be on site,” Regan said. “And Han Solo and Luke Skywalker will also be walking around talking to kids.”

Han Solo will be portrayed by Adam Hammon, 17, and Luke Skywalker will be played by Adam’s brother, Shawn, 22. Their mother, Julia, of Simi Valley is chair of the festival.

“Kids are going to love this event because they can’t get enough of ‘Star Wars,’” she said. “And hopefully it will increase their enthusiasm for reading.”

For more information about the 2016 Family Book Festival, call (805) 526-1735.

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