Community comes together for festival raising awareness for children’s literacy

September 10, 2022

Originally published in Syracuse.com on September 10, 2022.

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Dozens of people gathered on a beautiful day in Syracuse’s Southside to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of children’s literacy Saturday. 

At noon, the event began with a parade from Beauchamp Library on South Salina Street to Brighton Academy Middle School on West Brighton Avenue where the Light a Candle for Literacy Festival was held. 

Around 50 people participated in the parade and more community members flooded in as the festival began. 

The event which was held annually from 2005 to 2015, restarted this year. The festival aims to celebrate children’s literacy, encourage parents to read to their children daily and counteract the summer reading loss in children, according to the festival’s website. 

The event featured music, live performances and local children’s book authors and illustrators. Organizers also held book giveaways. 

Recently, Senator John Mannion secured $10,000 in state funding for the program to aid with the reboot of the annual festival, according to a news release from the senator’s office. 

“The Light a Candle for Literacy Parade and Children’s Book Festival opens the wonderful world of reading to the youth of Central New York and I am proud to have secured resources to help bring back this important event,” Mannion said. 

Mannion’s office was one of 13 sponsors of the event. 

The Light a Candle for Literacy program is a volunteer-run after-school and summer literacy program based in the Brighton neighborhood. The program was founded by Geneva Hayden a longtime Southside community and literacy advocate. 

The program serves school-age children from kindergarten to fifth grade.