When people have children, they often encourage them to read to jumpstart their literacy skills and look for other ways to help their child with reading. Literacy in the Park, an event sponsored by the University, helps children to do just that.

Literacy in the Park, sponsored by the Conda family and the College of Education and Human Development, was held Saturday, April 11 at the Stroh. The event featured booths like the University’s Martha Gesling Weber Reading Center, PNC Bank, the Wood County Book Mobile, Toledo Opera and ODNR Scenic Rivers among many others.

At the event, there were 40 volunteers, 100 volunteers for booths and it cost $30,000 to host.

Alyssa Puckrin, early childhood education major and graduate assistant coordinator, said that the event is one of the University’s signature events that’s been going on for a while.

“This is the 11th or 12th year for the event,” Puckrin said. “This is the second time we’ve had it in the Stroh due to the capacity.”

Puckrin says that a lot of the vendors they have represent different types of literacies.

“We have ECCO here, Toledo Zoo, BGSU Dining, Ohio Virtual Academy and a lot more,” Puckrin said. “We wanted to showcase a bunch of literacies besides reading, like financial, science, math, nutrition, art, emotional and more.”

Entertainment for the event included the University’s acapella groups Ten40 and Not Yet Perfect. Toledo School for the Arts’ steel drum band, Glass City Steel, was also in attendance with a performance.

Each year the event is held, there is always a notable children’s author invited to be a keynote speaker. Past authors include Mark Brown, creator of “Arthur”; writer of the “Llama, Llama” series Anna Dewdney and Eric Litwin, who wrote “Pete the Cat,” to name a few.

This year’s keynote speaker was Laura Numeroff, author of the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” and “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” series. Laura’s books have been translated in more than a dozen languages and has been featured on Oprah.

Numeroff spoke to the crowd of parents and young children about the importance of books, reading passages from her books to the crowd and encouraging kids to do philanthropy with literacy, highlighting some of her projects with reading.

Numeroff said that she was honored to speak at this year’s event.

“Anytime I can share my love of books or do an activity with reading is a joy and honor,” she said. “I didn’t expect that many people in one room though. It is an amazing event.”

Numeroff described how she knew she wanted to write books when she was eight years old and how “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” got rejected eight times by her publisher.

“It finally got published and after I published my second book I signed a contract for six more books, so now it’s like a formula with the characters,” she said.

Although Numeroff loves writing children’s books, she is taking a step back to write about another passion of hers.

“I’m retiring,” she said. “My books will still be there but I won’t write any new ones. There’s one book left in the series. I raised money on Kickstarter with my good illustrator friend Lynn Munsinger and I’m writing a book about therapy dogs called “Work for Biscuits.” It should be on Amazon in September. I saw a friend who had cerebral palsy and his therapy dog and ever since then I’ve had an interest.”

Puckrin said that Joseph and Judith Conda are the biggest donors for the event.

“The Condra family of Toledo have been the biggest donors of the event for many years,” Puckrin said. “They love literacy.”

Numeroff believes literacy is important.

“Research shows that the more kids read, the more creativity sparks,” Numeroff said.

Melissa Bucher, native of Maumee, said she enjoyed the event.

“It’s a great, free event to meet our favorite authors and do fun activities,” Bucher said. “Literacy is very important to our family and BGSU does a great job with it.”

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