Kids can dress like storybook characters for parade

A few times a week, Sofia Beatriz Vizcarra, 8, visits the Miami-Dade County Public Library branch in Kendall to read fairy tales. But this Saturday, she will become a princess.

“My favorite books are princess stories,” said Vizcarra, who will dress-up as a princess for the first Miami-Dade Public Library’s Art of Storytelling Parade. She will be one of many children and parents marching from the main library in downtown Miami at 10 a.m. on Saturday to kick off the 13th Annual International Storytelling Family Festival.

”I’m going as Princess Ariel with a green tail,” said Vizcarra.

Kids like Vizcarra can attend the all-day Storytelling Family Festival immediately following the parade, with author readings, a 6-foot-tall puppet performance and a “Teen Zone.”

The specialized “Teen Zone” area for readers ages 12 to 19 will have rock performances, a “zombie attack” activity and a video game contest.

“The purpose of the festival is to show kids that before computers and texting, there existed an oral tradition of storytelling,” said Victoria Galan, 46, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade County library system.

Every year, a variety of reading events take place throughout April across Miami-Dade county library branches, from Miami Lakes to Coral Gables.

Libby Kirsch, associate director at the Children’s Creative Learning Center at Florida International University, said the community has to make reading meaningful to kids to get them excited about books.

“There needs to be a love of literature. Those skills build as you’re looking at words on a page,” said Kirsch. “I don’t think electronics could ever take the place of a book.”

Vinora Hamilton, outreach coordinator for the library system, agrees. She said storytelling is an important part of the community and the festival hopes to attract children throughout the day’s events to get them excited about reading.

“Everyone in South Florida has a different story, and we have an incredible story,” said Hamilton. “It’s incredible to bring the community together.”