STOCKTON — Alisha Chandler and her 5-year-old foster daughter, Jill, were among the thousands of people who converged on University Park on Saturday for Family Day at the Park, The Record’s 19th annual literacy and book fair.

The free event featured live music, dancing, games, clowns, published authors, storytelling, a used book sale and book giveaways. Parents pushed strollers and led their little ones through Safety City, the Healthy Highway, the Creative Corner, Library Lane and King Author’s Court.

Chandler said her daughter enjoyed all the games, activities and performances, but her favorite activity might have been the University of the Pacific Community Involvement Program’s Read with a Superhero. The program gives children an opportunity to read with their favorite superheroes and other fictional characters, including Superman, Batman, Captain America, Princess Jasmine and Princess Belle.

Jill chose to read with Cinderella and Queen Elsa.

“We really try to stress literacy at home, so this is great,” Chandler said. “She is having a blast — an absolute blast — with all the arts and crafts, reading with the princesses, which is probably her favorite, and playing all the games.”

Pacific senior Karina Davalos explained that the Community Involvement Program is a need-based scholarship program for first-generation college students from the Stockton community who exhibit potential for leadership, community awareness and involvement. The program serves low-income students by providing access to college and a wide range of support as they pursue higher education.

As part of the Read with a Superhero program, Pacific students brought about 3,000 books to display on tables at their booth in Library Lane. After reading with their favorite characters, children were given tickets they could exchange for free books.

“We like to promote literacy and higher education,” Davalos said. “We go out to schools and let the kids read with a superhero or a princess.”

Davalos estimated that the Community Involvement Program had given away thousands of books on Saturday.

“They just have to read with a superhero and then they get a ticket,” she said. “They exchange the ticket for a book and then go back to the superhero, who signs the book with a message like, ‘Keep reading,’ or ‘Go to college.’ ”

Safety City featured exhibits by the Stockton Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, American Medical Response and other public safety agencies. American Medical Response offered CPR lessons for children.

At Creative Corner, children blew bubbles, got their faces painted and enjoyed performances by entertainers such as Rob Kroff, Snap Jackson, The Afternaps, Matthew Gollub, Sparkles and Ravioli, and Dennis Hysom. King Author’s Court featured authors such as Jennifer Torres-Siders, Tama Brisbane and Sam Fregoza.

Victor Valencia, who attended the event with his 10-year-old daughter, Dulce Maria, said Family Day at the Park is a great experience for children.

“It’s good for them and it’s good for the community,” he said.

Dulce Maria said she “got to do some fun stuff.” She left the event with 10 books, including “I’ve Got a Secret,” by Lara Bergen.

Chandler said Family Day at the Park is an affordable event for families, noting that admission and many of the books are free.

“I like that it’s low cost, so anyone can come," Chandler said, "and I like that it helps reinforce the fun and importance of reading.”

— Contact reporter Jason Anderson at (209) 546-8279 or Follow him at and on Twitter @Stockton911.