Pete the Cat and his storybook friend, Llama Llama, are excited about the Worthington Libraries' Family Reading Festival.

Guests can celebrate reading and the role it can play in the lives of young children and families at this year's event, set for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Shops at Worthington Place, 7227 N. High St.

In addition to visits from costumed characters, the festival will include activity tables at which children can drive robots, work on a community mural, play with clay and make snowman masks. Don't miss a special storytime with Miss Lisa, lots of games and a scavenger hunt.

Those attending can also connect with area organizations serving the needs of children and families, such as K-9 Wonder Dogs 4-H PetPALS, Columbus Speech and Hearing Center, Family Mentor Foundation and the YMCA.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents and caregivers read to their children daily, for at least 15 minutes, beginning at 6 months of age and continuing through age 5 and older.

Reading with a child strengthens the child-parent bond and increases a child's sense of self-esteem, family involvement and emotional well-being.

Research presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting suggests that reading books with a child beginning in early infancy can boost vocabulary and reading skills four years later, before the start of elementary school.

"These findings are exciting because they suggest that reading to young children, beginning even in early infancy, has a lasting effect on language, literacy and early reading skills," said Carolyn Cates, lead author of the abstract "Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes" and research assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.

Hillary Kline is a communications specialist for Worthington Libraries.