Greater Mankato Area United Way held their fourth annual United Reading Festival  at YMCA Mankato on Saturday. They also celebrated their 20th anniversary for the Books for Kids program. 

United Way Community Impact Director Elizabeth Harstad said the event is a great way to spread literary awareness to the community.  

"We know that reading and literacy is such a foundation for children's development and for their success in school and so the reading festival is a great way just to celebrate reading," said Harstad. 

Community Outreach Director Laura Murray said through the Books for Kids Program they send out free books to assist children in creating their own libraries. 

"We send out free books and parenting resources to about 4,000 kids every month in our region and the whole idea behind that program is just providing access to kids of all income levels," said Murray.  

 Hundred of families and over 20 local organizations gathered for the event.  Each participating group had a station consisting of information, treats and activities for the children.

"We're really thankful for all of the community organizations that are here today and having Capstone donate all the books as well as Mankato Clinic doing snacks and all of the non–profit organizations," said Harstad. 

Murray said United Way is currently in their campaign season, where they work with the community on important issues, with literacy being a key point.