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Cape Literacy Festival to be held at Cape High

By Staff | Mar 7, 2019

A dozen youth authors will make an appearance at Cape Coral High School for the third annual Cape Literacy Festival, a celebration of reading.

Cape Literacy Festival Coordinator and English teacher Jamie Ayres said in 2014 she had her first author visit at Veteran’s Park Academy after her first book, “18 Things,” was published.

“A month later, I received all sorts of letters from students who said my book was the first they’d read for fun and wanting to know what kind of books I’d recommend,” she said. “I realized reluctant readers might pick up a book if they had the chance to make a personal connection with the author. The next school year I planned author visits at my school and then expanded it to a festival once more resources became available.”

The third annual Cape Literacy Festival will take place at Cape Coral High School on Thursday, March 14, featuring 12 young adult authors. Those authors include Stacie Ramey, Lynne Matson, Amy Christine Parker, Steven Dos Santos, Lucienne Diver, Erica Cameron, Jeff Strand, Christina Farley, Teshelle Combs, Sarah Nicolas, Jenny Keller Ford, and Ayres.

The authors are traveling from all over Florida, while Strand is driving from Atlanta and Combs is flying in from Colorado.

Ayres said since she is an author, she has met all of the writers through various literacy events that have taken place around Florida. The authors represent many genres, and very diverse backgrounds, she added.

“Our selection committee did this on purpose,” Ayres said. “We wanted our students to have a wide variety of YA novels to choose from, and we wanted them to be able to identify personally with an author, too.”

Events will take place in each class period, and in the auditorium. Combs is the opening keynote speaker and Matson is the closing keynote speaker.

“Then we host two different panels of six authors with each panel lasting 30 minutes. At noon, all authors and students move to the football field for the outdoor festival,” Ayres said. “Students participate in a scavenger hunt, which includes interacting with the authors, and other games and activities. The more points the students earn through their scavenger hunt, the more entries they receive for prizes such as Starbucks gift cards.”

In addition, the Cape Literacy Festival will celebrate reading by giving away more than $6,000 worth of free books, which are written by visiting authors. This was made possible by a $5,000 grant from The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and a $1,500 grant from Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral.

She said she would like to thank their sponsors, as well as all 12 authors who are donating their time for the day.

“I have plenty of students who bought a book they wanted to read for the festival, but the reluctant readers aren’t going to purchase a book themselves. However, when you place a free book of their choosing in their hands and give them a little time to read the novel in class every day, they realize reading can be enjoyable,” Ayres said. “Several teachers incorporate the books into their lesson plans through Classroom Book Clubs and Literature Circles, and others share excerpts for a study on the author’s craft, which serves as a tease for getting students interested in reading the books on their own.”

Ayres said the students’ favorite time of the year is the Weekly Classroom Book Clubs, which are held the month prior to the festival.

“It makes reading fun again instead of seeming like a chore. They love having a choice in what they’re reading and interacting with peers for discussion,” she said. “We hope it’s a fun celebration that encourages a daily reading habit in the busy lives of our students.”