LENOIR — Children’s literature can be used not only to teach students how to read and write, but also to help increase their language, emotional, and cognitive skills. Literacy development is the foundation for doing well in school, socializing with others, problem-solving, making decisions, developing independence, managing money, and more.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, Tybrisa Books will host the first “Keep ‘em Reading” Children’s and Young Adult Literary Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of the store.
This festival was the brainchild of Michelle Mahaffey, owner of Tybrisa Books, and her daughter, Caitlynne Garland, a children’s book author.
“Children’s literacy and children’s books mean a lot to us,” said Mahaffey. “We love working with teachers to make sure they have libraries in their classrooms. We love it when they bring over their students to shop; that’s a lot of fun.”
Mahaffey has invited a number of local children’s authors both from Caldwell County and throughout North Carolina to bring their books and spend some time with children in the bookstore this weekend. Tybrisa Books often carries many of these author’s books, but some of the authors are new to the store.
“We’re very excited about that,” Mahaffey said.
The authors will be set up at tables arranged in the beautiful courtyard outside of the store. Starting at 10:30 a.m. and repeating every hour on the half hour, one author will read aloud from their book to the children who want to relax and listen to a story.
“The children can sit down with one author at a time,” Mahaffey said. “That way they can focus on that author’s book. I think kids will enjoy that.”
Mahaffey’s daughter, Caitlynne, has published three children’s books: “River the Three-Legged Dog” and “Milo the Brave” are about two of her dogs, and the latest one, “The Truth About Squirrels,” recently released on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
“Caitlynne will have River with her, the subject of her first book,” said Mahaffey. “He’s the most docile dog; he will lay there and let kids just love all over him. He’s always a big hit. The book is named after him because he is a three-legged dog. It’s very sweet.”
Most of the authors in attendance will have books for younger children, but two of the authors will have their young-adult books, as well. Taryn Hutchinson, author of “One Degree of Freedom,” and Jordan Greene, author of “Watching for Comets,” “A Mark on My Soul,” and “Every Word You Never Said,” will both be there to present their young-adult novels.
More from this section
“We will have all different topics and reading levels,” Mahaffey said.
In addition to children’s and young-adult books, there will be other children’s gift items available such as books that come with a related plushie.
Mahaffey is hoping to make this literary festival an annual event.
“We’ll just see how it goes, but we would like to do something like this once a year at least to encourage more reading and get children out from behind phones and video games and back to reading,” she said. “I think it makes a huge difference growing up to read more than stare at a screen. I just love it when we have kids who come in here and they just love to read, they’re so excited. It’s really encouraging to see that.”
This literary festival will give children and parents the opportunity to engage directly with authors and to ask any questions they might have regarding the reading material, story ideas, self-publishing, and more.
“I think it’s going to be great to have all of these authors together,” Mahaffey said. “It gives kids a chance to meet the people who write the books … The authors love to interact, so that will be a lot of fun.”
Mahaffey and the folks at Tybrisa Books are incredibly excited to be offering a space for a literary festival this weekend, and they hope that many families with children will attend.
“We’ll be out there all day, and we’d love to have lots and lots of children come out, see the books, and enjoy the story time,” said Mahaffey. “Hopefully, they’ll find something they want to take home with them and read and support these struggling local authors. I never really gave it a lot of thought until my daughter published her first book, but it is really hard to get it out there, to get bookstores to carry them, to get them out to the public and advertise them. If we can help a little bit, we want to do that, because they’re all awesome books, they’re really good. Most of them have a theme or lesson behind them that are an excellent message for children. Some are just outright fun. We’re excited about it and looking forward to it.”
Tybrisa Books is located at 210 Main Street NW in downtown Lenoir.
For more information, follow Tybrisa Books on Facebook or visit www.tybrisabooks.com. The bottom of the “Events” page offers short bios for each local author who will be in attendance on Saturday.
“If you have a child who loves to read, we’re the place to get those books affordably,” Mahaffey said. “You can really outfit a library for your child and not have to pay retail price. That’s a big part of the reason why we do what we do.”