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Virtual Southwest Florida Reading Festival continues

By Staff | Mar 10, 2021

The 22nd annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival continues this month with a fully virtual celebration of the power of reading. It showcases nearly 30 best-selling authors in addition to crafts, contests and prizes.

Those interested can visit the festival Website to view the author lineup, plan their schedule and take a look at the virtual marketplace booths. Visit www.eventhub.shop/readfest for additional information.

Author presentations are offered weekdays through March 12. Youth and teen authors stream online at 6 p.m. and adult authors follow at 7 p.m. The presentations are also being broadcast simultaneously on LeeTV (Comcast Cable channel 97 and CenturyLink’s Prism TV Channel 88 in Lee County).

“The Lee County Library System is proud to put together such an outstanding event every year,” Library Director Mindi Simon said. “The Southwest Florida Reading Festival has a stellar reputation for bringing the best literary talent to our community, and this year is no exception.”

Attendees will not want to miss the Live Meet & Greet events following the interviews for a chance to engage with the best-selling lineup via video and text chat. Additional opportunities to chat with authors are offered at the Saturday Live Booth Sessions. After the presentations conclude on March 13, the public can watch the recorded content on-demand in the video archive booth through March 31.

This year’s festival introduces a virtual marketplace featuring local authors and writing organizations. Vendors will be available to meet festival attendees during the scheduled Saturday Live Booth Sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. Attendees will be able to chat live within in each participating author’s booth.

Other components were designed to reflect the activities typically found in the annual in-person event. Participants of all ages can enjoy the grab-and-go crafts, online reading program, festival bingo and S.T.E.A.M. contests featuring LEGO, art and creativity challenges. Even autographed books will be provided in the form of signed book plates that can be adhered to the inside of books. A limited supply of signed book plates is available at no charge and requests clearly indicating the author preference, along with a physical mailing address, should be made by email to readingfestival@leegov.com.

As in previous years, the festival will provide each child and teen with a free new book. The books will be distributed inside of the age-appropriate grab-and-go craft kits, which can be requested from any of the 13 Lee County Library System branches including the Captiva Memorial Library through curbside pickup or at the reference desks, while supplies last. Crafts and free books are specifically tailored for each age group: babies, pre-K, grades K-2, grades 3-5, middle and high school teens, and adults.

Participants are encouraged to sign up for the online reading and activity challenge or to complete the paper-based reading bingo for chances to win prizes and book baskets with festival author book titles. The deadline to log reading and activities is March 31. Free reader accounts can be created using the READsquared app or by visiting www.readfest.org.

S.T.E.A.M. contests for all ages featuring LEGO building, art and creativity challenges will take place online, with top vote-earning entries winning prizes like LEGO sets, art supplies and more. Visit www.readfest.org to enter the contests through March 14, and vote for your favorites on March 15-31.

“The Southwest Florida Reading Festival has really tried to provide something for everyone this year,” festival coordinator Melissa Baker said. “As festival planning goes, this was a first for us to go all virtual, and with so many of the online features of the event being self-paced we hope that participants can enjoy the content whenever and wherever it is convenient for them.”

The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is free and community-supported through donations, sponsorships and grants. To help ensure the continuation of the free community event by making a secure online donation, visit www.ReadFest.org or contact 239-533-4832 for more information.