NEW GLOUCESTER – Raising Readers will hold a book festival for children and families from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, at Pineland Farms. The festival will celebrate winter with the reading of winter-themed picture books by authors and illustrators and with many outdoor activities.

Kids are invited to the Pineland Farms Visitors Center where they can hear special guest authors and illustrators read winter-themed books throughout the day.

Guests will include picture book authors and illustrators Scott Nash, Lynn Plourde, Lindsay Barrett George and Judi Beach. Authors and illustrators will sign their books after each reading. First Lady Karen Baldacci has also been invited to read aloud some winter book favorites.

Raising Readers, in accordance with its mission to give children new books as part of their regular health care visits, will give away picture books at the festival in exchange for a small donation to Jasmine’s Book Drive.

Jasmine, a favorite cow at the Pineland Farms Dairy Barn, is helping to spearhead a book drive for the day-care center at Crossroads for Women, a shelter in Windham.

Admission to the festival will be the donation of a new or gently used children’s book to Jasmine’s Book Drive.

For each book read, there will be a corresponding activity at the Visitors Center and Valley Farm or on the trails and in the woods at Pineland. Children’s book author/illustrator George, author of “In the Snow: Who’s Been Here?,” will lead families on a winter nature walk.

Her series of picture books help children identify tracks and other signs in the woods that show animals were recently there. Families will also be able to participate in snowshoeing lessons, hand milking at the dairy barn and, if they bring their skates, ice skating on the Pineland Farms Pond.

To warm up between winter activities, families can participate in indoor crafts led by festival partners, including MainelyKids.com. Foley’s Bakery, newly opened at the Pineland Farms Visitors Center, will lead a hands-on bakery class for children based on the picture book, “Sun Bread” by Elisa Kleven.

The event is sponsored by Raising Readers, a health and literacy initiative, that promotes reading to young children between birth and age 5 by giving them new books as part of their regular well-child health care. The goal is to give all children in Maine, regardless of their economic means, a dozen books by the time they reach 5.

The program is available at no cost to all health care providers in Maine who see children between the ages of birth and 5 years. Ongoing funding is provided by the Libra Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation dedicated to enriching Maine, empowering communities and enhancing the quality of life of all Maine’s residents.

Pineland Farms, also established by the Libra Foundation, is a 3,000-acre working farm, diverse business campus and educational and recreational venue that welcomes visitors. For directions and maps, visit www.pinelandfarms.org.


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