The annual UCF Book Festival returns this year for the sixth time on Saturday April 18th from 10 a.m – 3:30 p.m. This event will feature different activities for children and young adults, which promotes and fuels interest and engagement in reading and literature.

The keynote speaker is author Terry McMillan, a New York Times best seller of “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”

This free event is a literary culture experience that draws thousands of readers from all ages each year. This year will feature 45 authors and illustrators of various genres, book signings and sales, book forums, literary activities for all ages, exhibitors and food trucks. Richard Sloane, the director of community and college relations at UCF’s College of Education, was part of the team which originally began this event in 2009. The dean at the time, Sandra L. Robinson, had the idea after seeing a book fair in South Carolina. It tied well with UCF’s mission to give back to the community and after hard work, the event was a success and has now continued for six years and more to come.

“It’s a community event designed to bring folks out to enjoy the love of literacy, reading and books,” Sloane said.

He said that each year more applications come in from great authors who want to showcase their work.

D’Ann Rawlison, co-chair of the Authors Committee and also director of the UCF Teaching Academy and College Outreach, said that the authors committee opens book submissions a year before and the committee reviews various titles and trends to determine the programming for the year.

The committee is comprised of UCF faculty and staff from the College of Education and Human Performance, College of Arts and Humanities (Department of Writing and Rhetoric and Department of English/Creative Writing) and UCF library along with members of the community including publishing houses and local libraries.

“Authors are the main attraction of the festival and engage in everything from panel discussions, book signings, read alouds, and cooking demonstrations. Our children and young adult authors also participate in the Children and Teen Zones,” Rawlinson said.

This year, Ellen Hopkins, popular young adults author, will be appearing at the UCF Teen Writing Workshop and provide feedback to young writers who want to improve their creative writing abilities.

In collaboration with the UCF Global Perspectives Office, they were able to choose Terry McMillan as the keynote speaker.

The Barnes and Noble at UCF is hosting the author book signing on-site, which is an opportunity for attendees to interact with authors individually. Each year about 3,000 – 4,-000 people attend and can interact with best selling, accomplished and emerging authors.

“There are people who come that are book lovers but we want to encourage people to read,” Sloane said. “We start with youth who may or may not be sold on reading and we know that knowledge and so much comes from being well read that if we can encourage people from early years to enjoy reading, they get a pleasurable activity and them interacting with highly noted authors influences them.”

The event will take place at the Education Complex, UCF Teaching Academy and Morgridge International Reading Center buildings on the UCF Campus. Free parking is also available in Garages A and I.