WHEN FALL CALLS; YEARNING FOR LEARNING

The approach of September brings with it anticipations of all sorts of events – the beginning of school, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the whole joyful mess of the holiday season. Throughout the greater Santa Barbara area, there are also plans underway for special events of the literary kind. Here are a few worthy of stars on your calendar.

The Santa Barbara Book and Author Fair (September 30 – 10 am to 5 pm – free): This year, the Central Library and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art are venues for this annual celebration of writers and lovers of books. The library hosts readings from adult literature along with panels of writers, editors and other publishing professionals discussing subjects such as the media and/or penning mysteries. At the Art Museum are poetry readings by poets of all ages, including students of local poet Perie Longo. On the surrounding lawns and courtyards are vendor booths where authors are available to sign books. Of primary interest to the young is the Family Stage where storytellers, ensembles and children’s authors make stories come to life. Suitable for ages 4 and above; for more information, visit sbbookfestival.org.

Breakfast with the Authors (October 7 – 10:30 am to 1:30 pm – $15): This annual Santa Barbara County Education Office event offers an opportunity to meet authors from all over the Central Coast and Southern California area. Guests are seated around tables where they can chat with writers of children’s books. After a quiche brunch, authors are given three minutes to answer a question, such as, “What book would you give to the President?” Both entertaining and informative, the writers will often include previews of any new books coming out. Afterwards, there is an opportunity to purchase signed books. A favorite event with local librarians, the breakfast is open to anyone age 14 and over. Reservations are required; call Rose Koller at 964-4711.

Literacy Faire (November 11 – 10 am to 3 pm – $10, adults; $8, children): One of the local preschools has come up with a unique fundraiser that doubles as an opportunity for parents to observe and learn some literacy-developing techniques. At this whole day interactive event, activities include readings and book signings by local authors; performances by storytellers, puppeteers and ensembles; hands-on experiences such as making Stone Soup and books; and book readings by teachers and parents. Featured local writers include Bruce Hale, writer of the Chet Gecko series; Marni McGee (“Sleepy Me” and “Wake Up Me”); Mary Hanson (“Snug”); and John Wilcox, writer of historical novels such as the “The Chumash Through a Child’s Eyes.” Suitable for families with children ages nine and under, the event will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 21 East Constance Avenue. Call the Early Childhood Center, 687-0754, extension 114, for more information.

Throughout the year, Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Libraries provides quality programs for local children. This fall and winter are no different. On September 20, Karen Tyler, of Rocket Cat Music, will give kid-friendly classes on jazz history in “Blues 101.” Ms Tyler will perform at the Carpinteria, Goleta, Central and Solvang libraries. Around the same time, Teresa McNeil MacLean will give a preschool program on “Singing Storybooks” at the Central, Eastside, Goleta and Montecito libraries. In October, Sid Hausman will present the Western Music Round-Up with original and traditional folk songs about things like lizards, cow ponies and kangaroo rats. In December, Swazzle Puppets will present “Harry and the Tyrannosaurus Rex” at several of the local libraries. For times, dates as well as information on other programs, check the library website, sbplibrary.org.

Near the end of February is the Santa Ynez Valley Art’s Outreach “Flying Leap Storytelling Festival.” Five to six nationally renowned performers use the craft of storytelling to transport listeners from the auditorium of the Santa Ynez High School into realms of fantasy, history and nostalgia. Those who attend once usually come back, because no matter how old we are, we still enjoy being told a good story. Tickets are sold for each hour-long performance; a Saturday pass is also available. Performances are suitable for different ages; designations are noted in the brochure. For more information, contact the Arts Outreach at 688-9533, or visit artsoutreach.net.

Of course, there are always special events on our calendars of a more personal nature, and I have recently found myself in the joyful, yet time-consuming process of planning for an extra special event in my life. I’ll give you a hint – one of my nieces is going to receive a book entitled, “Lilly’s Big Day” (Kevin Henkes). Lilly is one of those characters with a great following in the kindergarten set. In this book, Lilly’s teacher is getting married and Lilly is determined to be the flower girl. Unfortunately, Lilly’s teacher has asked his niece to be the flower girl. But Lilly is still determined. Through a series of twists and turns, everyone ends up happy, and Lilly has a new friend in her teacher’s niece. It is a great book to help any child prepare for the “Big Day,” as well as teaching children about the rewards of humility and working together.

Happy reading and learning!