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Helping literacy bloom at the Redbud Festival

By Sandy Gladfelter from April 2014 Issue

Helping literacy bloom at the Redbud Festival

Credit: Denise Hoover

Diana Mills, director of Foundation Relations and Prospect Research at Union College in Barbourville, continues her pursuit of expanding literacy in Knox County by promoting reading and writing for enjoyment.

Promoting literacy in Kentucky has been educator Diana Mills' love through 33 years teaching language arts and as librarian in Knox County Public Schools.

Mills, 6th generation from Knox County, says, "I credit my mother and grandfather for my direction. She was an avid reader and began each day reading from the Bible. My grandpa told stories about 'the good ole days,' which led me to choose biographies of Washington, Lincoln, and others. Today, my favorite books are about Appalachian culture—surviving in spite of hardships/situations. These resourceful/creative people prosper by hard work and using resources from the region."

After retiring from teaching in March 2008, Mills became director of Foundation Relations and Prospect Research at Union College in Barbourville. Mills' suggestion to incorporate Writers' Row into their annual Redbud Festival was her "path of bringing books to others in a real way," she says. "I knew literacy and illiteracy affects not only one child, but our community, region, state, and nation. I thought providing an opportunity to introduce young people to books by meeting authors—hearing their experiences with writing in their own words—seemed like an excellent method."

Since the inclusion, Mills continues to volunteer time coordinating the event and developing new ideas. Her goal of including impressive authors has made a major impact in the county.

This year's theme will focus again on Filling Body and Soul—books will be collected and delivered to local shelters at the conclusion of the Union College Redbud Festival of Appalachian Culture.

The festival runs April 11-12, 10 a.m.-9:00 p.m. on the Union College campus in Barbourville. Writers' Row takes place April 12, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Get details at Redbudfestky.com.