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Book event expands due to popular demand

Pomona Reads, a fledgling but dynamic book, literacy and publishing fair, takes place from noon to 4 p.m. tomorrow at Pomona Civic Center. Community organizations, vendors, publishers and authors will be on hand at the expanded, kid-friendly second annual show, which is entirely free. 

Pomona Reads is very much inspired by the LA Times Festival of Books, the mammoth literary extravaganza held yearly at USC with more than 150,000 attendees. “That really was the model we were going after,” said Pomona Public Library Foundation President John Clifford, who spearheads Pomona Reads.

The event has been expanded this year with increased representation of children’s and young adult writing, as well as discussions and author talks on science fiction, memoirs, mysteries, comic books, Latino writers and poetry, among other genres. Another panel focuses on the popular Dr. Who genre, and local publisher Mark Givens (Pelekinesis) will be on hand as one of four participants in a small press and independent publishing panel.

Additionally, Mr. Clifford said, the Pomona Host Lions Club will sponsor four “story stations” under trees on the civic center lawn, with volunteers reading throughout the day from various genres of literature. A magician will also be on hand to entertain the kids. 

While Pomona Reads is just in its second year, the Pomona Library has been hosting literary/book fairs for quite some time. It was involved in the National Endowment for the Arts’ program The Big Read for several years. The Big Read was funded by a federal grant, which took considerable staff time to administer and manage. When the library faced severe cutbacks a few years ago—employees’ hours were cut to fewer than 20 per week—it became apparent something had to change.

“They no longer had the staff that could administer the grant,” Mr. Clifford explained. “They couldn’t do that and run the library at the same time.”

Mr. Clifford got involved, reaching out to the community for help. With his guidance, it was decided a more modest, locally focused event made more sense. Together We Read was launched. The concept had some success, but after a few years attendance waned. 

With the LA Times Festival of Books as the model, “We re-imagined the literacy event as a book festival,” Mr. Clifford said, and Pomona Reads was born.

Last year’s inaugural event was a success, he said, and with the program expanded for Saturday’s event, hopes are high that attendance will increase and the community will come out to show support. 

Pomona Reads is free and takes place Saturday, October 15 from noon to 4 p.m. at Pomona Civic Center, 505 S. Garey Ave., Pomona. A full schedule of events is available on Pomona Reads’ Facebook page at facebook.com/pomonareads. 

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

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