BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Authors and illustrators will descend upon the Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s Maumee branch for Claire’s Day on Saturday, May 21.
The book festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the library. Several of the authors and illustrators have already visited local schools to meet with the children.
Claire’s Day was founded by Julie and Brad Rubini to honor their daughter Claire, who died in 2000 at the age of 10. The organization has since merged with Read for Literacy, but the purpose of the event has stayed the same.
“After losing Claire, both Brad and I felt compelled to honor Claire in a way that was true to her,” Julie said. “We just kept coming back to books, as avid of a reader as she was and as supportive as she was of friends who might be a little challenged in their reading and her relationship with Brad, who is dyslexic.”
Claire noticed her dad accommodating his dyslexia when he read stories to his three children. Claire then started to read with him. Claire’s support of those in her life was the inspiration behind the CARE Awards, or Claire’s Award for Reading Excellence.
The CARE Awards recipients are recognized during the Claire’s Day events with children being nominated by educators in the community.
“What the CARE Awards are really all about is to recognize those children who are being honored as the most improved readers in their schools,” Julie said.
It was important to the Rubinis to recognize children who continue to try despite the challenges they face and to honor Claire in the process. According to Diana Bush, Read for Literacy’s executive director, on the inaugural Claire’s Day, there were 20 recipients of the award. This year, there are almost 500 students who will be recognized.
Claire’s Day also hosts authors and illustrators who happen to live in the area. Twelve authors will be at the May 21 event: Ruth McNally Barshaw, Louise Borden, Will Hillenbrand, Michelle Houts, Beth Kephart, Denise Brennan-Nelson, Nancy Roe Pimm, Merrill Rainey, Tricia Springstubb, Lisa Wheeler, Aaron Zenz and Julie Rubini.
Their books will be available to purchase and can be signed during the day. As a participating author and the co-founder, Rubini said it has a meant a great deal to her to get to write and to be supported by the community.
Bush said the authors have spent the week speaking to the students at area schools and will then be able to meet with the students and their families again on Saturday.
“(They) have spent this week prior to Claire’s Day, visiting schools, talking to children about the importance of reading and what it takes to be an author and/or illustrator, as well as some of the processes they go through when they write books,” Bush said.
On Saturday, there will also be a Creation Station, which encourages children to read and helps them find the types of books they will be most interested in. Bush said several groups have partnered with the organization, including the library, Imagination Station and the Y to bring hands-on activities to the kids.
“It is a very exciting day,” Bush said.
The day, Julie said, could not go on without the work of Read for Literacy, the volunteers, schools, sponsors, library staff, original planning committee and the community.
“I want to express on behalf of both Brad and I our gratitude for the incredible support from the community,” Julie said. “We encourage everyone to come and experience the joy of Claire’s Day, this wonderful, free, family book festival in honor of our Claire.”