The annual Bringing Books to Life festival at Myriad Botanical Gardens has earned a national Program of Excellence Award from the American Public Gardens Association. The award is given to an association member who has displayed an innovative spirit in the development of an original program and demonstrated leadership in public horticulture.
American Public Garden Association Recognizes Myriad Botanical Gardens for Program Excellence
With one-time funding from the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Gardens President and CEO Maureen Heffernan launched Bringing Books to Life in 2013. Visitors to the annual festival have since stepped through a giant keyhole into The Secret Garden, taken a wild rumpus with Max and his merry monsters from Where the Wild Things Are, sat beside Piglet and Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood, and enjoyed the bare necessities with Baloo, Mowgli, and friends from The Jungle Book.
“The national American Public Garden Association promotes and provides information resources for botanical gardens throughout North America,” Heffernan said. “We were thrilled to have our annual spring family festival, Bringing Books to Life, selected to receive their top award for program excellence. Our staff and local artists work hard to make this annual festival as educationally engaging, creative and inspiring as possible to motivate children and their families to read books and plant a garden. Both have the power to gain insights and lessons for a lifetime.
“What a wonderful honor and recognition of our staff’s work and our donors’ support of this program, that their efforts are nationally recognized with this notable award.”
Local painters, sculptors, and storytellers help transform the Children’s Garden the garden into a magical world based on a classic children’s book with a garden or horticultural theme. This festival has become an anticipated late spring tradition for thousands of families who look forward to walking through re-imagined garden spaces brought to life. Literacy components are woven throughout the festival with storytelling, scavenger hunts, hands-on activities, and other interactive educational opportunities as well as theatrical and musical performances based on the book.
Since the festival’s inception, the Gardens has partnered with Metropolitan Library System to promote literacy and summer reading at the festival via storytimes, library card sign-up and mobile circulation, the Oklahoma City Thunder whose players promote literacy throughout the community, as well as other area institutions, to reach a broad audience.
A variety of sponsors have ensured that Bringing Books to Life continues each year since the first grant from Junior League of Oklahoma City. They include Tinker Federal Credit Union, Devon Energy Corp., Express International Professionals, E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, Cox Communications, Jean and David McLaughlin, Goldfish Swim School, Kimray, Allied Arts, Hogan Taylor, Gail Beals, Kohls, OK Detrick Family Foundation, Midtown Vets, Paycom, BC Clark, and Okie Kids Playground.
The awards are presented at the APGA annual summer conference. Due to COVID-19, the conference was held virtually this year and the festival was canceled until spring 2021.