The stage is set for the second Shoalhaven Readers and Writers Festival, and with the theme of "Adventures in Reading", the focus this year is firmly on our youngest book lovers.
Those young readers will be excited to learn that our festival has attracted best selling authors Jacqueline Harvey and Jack Heath, who will be in town for a program of school visits and free author talks.
Ms Harvey said she was excited to be able to meet her local fans face to face.
"I never met an author when I was growing up," she said.
"Meeting authors in real life shows children that it's a viable career path - writers are just ordinary people, granted ones with big imaginations - and children can dream of being writers too."
The authors will visit Bomaderry, Illaroo Road and Nowra primary schools, as well as Nowra High School on Friday, July 26, with a free children's program planned for the Nowra Library on Saturday, July 27.
In another special event, fans of Jacqueline Harvey's popular characters; Clementine Rose, Alice-Miranda and Kensy & Max, have the chance to attend an afternoon tea where they can dress up as their favourite characters and meet the author.
Jack Heath, the author of more than 30 action-packed books for kids including the LIARS, Danger and Countdown to Danger series, can vouch for the importance of author talks for helping kids develop a love of books, reading and writing.
"If I hadn't met Jackie French when I was a little kid, I might not be a writer today," he said.
"Knowing there's a human being behind the words really changes the way kids think about books and writing."
Shoalhaven writer Allison Tait loves nothing more than speaking to local students about the business of reading and writing.
The best selling author and director of the children's program for the Shoalhaven Readers and Writers Festival is a living example of the power of literacy.
Ms Tait's children's adventure series The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher have enjoyed international success.
"I love being able to show local kids that someone who went to school here has written stories that are read right around the world," Ms Tait said.
"If I can do it, why not them? Some of the most original and insightful story ideas I've ever heard have come from kids in this area."
The children's program director of the Shoalhaven Readers and Writers festival said a conscious effort had been made to create a program of free sessions for local families.
Apart from the activities at Nowra Library, the festival is this year sponsoring author visits to four local schools, which will reach 1600 children.
"Bringing authors into Shoalhaven schools opens up different discussion about books for kids," Ms Tait said.
"They can ask where ideas come from. They can talk about their favourite characters. It makes stories, and the process of creating them, feel real.
"If you want your kids to do better with writing at school, encourage them to read. Start by reading to them, and then encourage them to choose their own books. That's why libraries are so brilliant - they open up a world of reading at no cost."
The Library will also host a free Story Time with the visiting authors for young children.
There will be a workshop for kids (8-12) with local illustrator Cheryl Westenberg, and a writing workshop for children ten years of age and older, with local best selling author, Allison Tait (A.L. Tait).
Dymocks Nowra will have books by all attending authors for sale and signing at the library on Saturday.
Festival director Emma Bell said the volunteer committee was excited to present the extended children's program this year, with a view to delivering a festival featuring both adult and children's programs again in 2020.
Visit shoalhavenreadersandwritersfestival.com.au for details and to book tickets.
The author talks by Jacqueline Harvey and Jack Heath in Nowra Library are FREE. Workshop tickets are $20 per child per session (max 20 people).