The Literature Matters festival, set for Saturday, October 1 at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin, will highlight local and out of town self-published children book authors all of whom want to engage and support children to read.

On Saturday, October 1, children of all ages are invited to attend a festival known as Literature Matters. The festival will be held from 2-4 p.m. at the Firehouse Cultural Center, located at 101 1st Ave. NE in Ruskin. The Literature Matters festival is free and open to the public.

Literature Matters was founded by J. Desiree Rodriguez, an Afro-Latina, four-time self-published, award-winning author, professor, former Mrs. All-Star Southeast 2021, wife, mother, doctoral scholar and community enthusiast. Rodriguez has over 10 years of strategic communication and community outreach experience. She became a business owner at the age of 23 with a goal to impact youth through literacy and mentorship.

Literature Matters provides the community with an opportunity to connect with national authors, guest speakers, storytelling and music.

Rodriguez said, “I grew up a child of Dominican and African American descent. I did not understand my history or connect to my culture. My mother cooked sancocho, rice and beans. However, I did not know why my mother spoke Spanish, and why we traveled to another country to see our family. I could not connect to my culture and understand where I came from.”

Rodriguez added, “There are children who do not understand their culture, just as I did not.”

According to Rodriguez, “Literature Matters provides underrepresented books to communities in need. Communities that lack diverse books will be supported through book distributions, keynote speaking engagements and community events.”

Rodriguez added, “More often than not, Latinx, Hispanic, African American and Asian American literature is not incorporated in K-12 required literature. Let’s work together and change the narrative. As Americans, we embody cultures from around the world. It is about time our children read about them.”

Authors who are confirmed include Rodriguez, Casilya Smith, Devin Paladino, Annette Eberhart, Leroy Toliver and Tyrone Void. The confirmed keynote speakers are Casilya Smith and Devin Paladino.

Literature Matters is an affiliate program of J. Desiree LLC, which is designed for literacy outreach. The Literature Matters festival is about 2 years old.

If you have questions, please contact Rodriguez at

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