Reader Riot comes to Florence

by Life Editor Monday Sanderson

Book lovers rejoice because the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library is hosting the first-ever Reader Riot book festival April 28 and 29.

The two-day event will take place at the library, Wilson Park and other locations in downtown Florence.

The community book festival gives people the chance to meet different authors, said B.J. Keeton, Reader Riot marketing coordinator.

“We wanted to bring together lots of best-selling authors, current authors and activities to create a good time for the community,” Keeton said. “We just wanted to have a place where kids and families and the community could have a fun place to go and see how reading and literature are an important part of the Shoals community.”

Keeton said the event is free to the public.

“The only things people have to pay for are tickets for the book character lunch for the children and anything they get from a vendor,” he said.

Keeton said the event most people are looking forward to is the R.L. Stine book talk at Norton Auditorium. Stine, known worldwide for the “Goosebumps” and “Fear Street” series, holds the honor of best-selling children’s book author of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records.

There will also be book talks from other authors, such as Tim Crothers (“The Queen of Katwe”) and Melanie Benjamin (“The Aviator’s Wife”).

This event will help the Shoals area, said junior Rachel Morgan.

“It’s a good thing for the area,” she said. “These book talks will bring good attention.”

Other than the book talks, there will be activities for everyone in the family, Keeton said.

“We will have what we’re calling Author’s Alley, which is a vendor bazaar,” he said. “We will have over two dozen authors and book related crafts and activities. All the authors there will have their books for sale.”

Other planned activities include film screenings and live screen printing.

Morgan said most of the activities she has heard about center more around children.

“There are many great activities I saw available, but there was more of a focus on children fiction than adult fiction,” she said. “I’m still excited to attend some of the book talks, but I wish there were more activities for college students and adults without children.”

Keeton said it took two years to plan the festival.

“The community committee and the library have really worked hard to bring everything together and try to make it a success,” he said. “We decided to go big or go home, so we put all the effort we could into it. We had to do it right because nothing like this has been done in this area before.”

People should expect an event related to the Reader Riot each year, Keeton said.

“We’re not sure if (the festival) will happen every year or every other year, but there will be something,” he said. “Whether it’s a full festival or a smaller series of events leading up to another festival, we’re definitely planning on repeat events.”

Keeton said he hopes people come out and enjoy the many activities available.

“This will be a fantastic event,” he said. “We’re putting our heart and souls into this.”