The King County Library System will host a free celebration with visits by children's authors and costumed characters, as well as special...

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The King County Library System will host a free celebration with visits by children’s authors and costumed characters, as well as special story times, puppet shows, storytellers and music performances at 41 community libraries today.

New this year, Ready to Read Day, running 11 a.m.-2 p.m., is part of the library’s focus on early literacy.

It’s the first time the library system has coordinated so many sites with events on the same day; all but two small libraries will participate, said Marsha Iverson, a KCLS public relations specialist.

More than 20 local authors and illustrators will make appearances, including Carmela and Steven D’Amico (“Ella Sets the Stage”); Leslie Patricelli (“Blankie”); Julie Paschkis (illustrator, “Yellow Elephant”); Margaret Lippert (“Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile”); Clare Hodgson Meeker (“Hansa”); and Carole Lexa Schaefer (“The Bora-Bora Dress”).

Check out performers such as Linda Severt (“Juggletunes”), Thistle Theatre and the Brian Waite Band.

The KCLS’ “spokespuppets,” Dewey and Sketch, will be on hand to meet kids at selected libraries, joined by characters like Winnie the Pooh and Curious George.

For details about events at each library, go to www.kcls.org/readytoreadcelebration.

Stephanie Dunnewind, Seattle Times staff reporter