WILLIAMSTOWN -- An annual children's literary festival will kick off its 15th year Wednesday.
For a week and a half, children, parents and community members will be able to participate in an array of activities that include a costume parade, word games and a book fair as part of Words Are Wonderful. They will also be able to meet Newbery Honor Award-winning author Cynthia Lord, graphic novelist George O'Connor, screenwriter and director Stacy Cochran and self-professed wonderer and wanderer Andrew Forsthoefel.
Lauren Gotlieb, chairwoman of the Words Are Wonderful Committee, said Monday they're very excited about this year's festival, and the fact that it's the first time a graphic novelist will be one of the participating authors.
"Studies have shown that in getting kids to read, you sometimes have to give them a whole bunch of different formats and different ways to read," she said.
O'Connor will speak to students at the Williamstown and Lanesborough elementary schools and Mount Greylock Regional High School on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A book signing that is open to the public will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Williamstown Elementary School.
The community is also invited to a workshop, which will be led by O'Connor, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the David and Joyce Milne Public Library. As part of the workshop, O'Connor will advise participants on how to think about their lives through
Gotlieb said Lord will visit with Williamstown and Lanesborough elementary school students on Oct. 22 and 23. A book signing will be held at 3 p.m., on Oct. 22, at Williamstown Elementary School, and it's open to the public.
Gotlieb said Lord's two juvenile novels are about social issues. One book, "Rules!," is about how a girl deals with her brother being autistic, while the other book, "Touch Blue," is about families in a small town taking in foster children to help bring up attendance in the local school so it will stay open.
"Besides being a fantastic writer, we like that Lord focuses on social issues in her writing," she said.
While having an array of activities helps in promoting the objective of Words Are Wonderful, which is to generate excitement in the community about reading, having people come from outside the area to share their craft also helps, she said.
"Having authors come to this every year can result in very real moments for children within a reading system that can sometimes seem abstract," she said.
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Other Words Are Wonderful activities that are open to the public:
* Milne Public Library Story Hour at 10:30 a.m., on Oct. 23 and 24
* The Scholastic Book Fair at the Williamstown Elementary School, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Oct. 24, 25 and 26; 6 to 7:30 p.m., on Oct. 25; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Oct. 27
* Wordplay Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Williamstown Elementary School