On Saturday, April 26th, the Clock Tower Quad at Santa Monica College (SMC) will welcome entertainers, storytellers, theater groups and musicians as part of the eighth annual “Raising Readers — A Literacy Festival.”

The Connections for Children event aims to foster children’s language and literacy development with collaborators SMC and the North Bay Association for the Education of Young Children.

Connections executive director Karen Kaye says the first festival in 2001 served to commemorate the childcare resource and referral agency’s 25th anniversary.

Kaye adds that they wanted to throw a party but also have a festival with a literary emphasis that was open to children and their families and caregivers.

Roni Kritzberg says she has been going to the event for the past six years because she wants to place her daughters, ages six and four, in that learning environment.

“I like Connections for Children because it supports reading, not just coming out to play,” Kritzberg says.

She adds that her daughters like the arts and crafts activities but they also value the last stop of their afternoon — the Scholastic Books Fair.

Books are added to her girls’ overflowing collection to increase their curiosity and connections with literacy.

“The more books kids have, the more they enjoy reading,” Kritzberg says.”

Kaye is of the same mind and hopes the festival will justify the notion that literacy is delightful for children.

“Hopefully, [it will] increase their awareness about reading and learning, and that learning is fun and interesting,” she says.

This consciousness is built upon through appropriate activities led by childcare providers, and entertainment by the likes of Rhythm Child, Flights of Fantasy Story Theatre, Parker Bent, We Tell Stories Ensemble Theatre Troupe and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Kaye adds that while children up to the age of eight will probably find the event interesting, organizers really have children under age five in mind.

“Because those are the children that don’t have mandated programs,” she says.

The SMC Alpha Gamma Sigma honor society volunteers at the festival because its representatives believe it is a good cause.

“We want to help young people, promote literacy and help people continue with their education,” says Terry Green, a co-advisor for the honor society and a professor of mathematics at SMC.

Alpha Gamma Sigma president Bruno Treves adds that members maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average, while completing 20 community service hours a semester.

“We try to get those events that have the greatest impact on the community,” Treves says.

For Kritzberg, literacy is the ultimate force in one’s life.

“To get along in life, you have to know how to read,” she says.

The festival will take place Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. on the SMC Campus at 1900 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. Admission is free.

Information, (310) 452-3325 and www.connectionsforchildren .org/.

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