SPRING HILL, Fla. -- Children's characters came to life on Saturday at the 12th annual Storybook Forest in Spring Hill.

The woods transformed into a world of pure imagination through hands-on activities like face-painting, singing, and, of course, reading.

The slight chill in the air didn’t stop Anysia McDowell and her daughters from making the trek up from St. Petersburg.

“We just got here and did a beeline to Daniel Tiger and Katerina Kittycat!” she laughed. “We saw lots of books being featured, we love reading.”

Spreading a love of reading is key for the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando counties, which is why they’ve hosted the Storybook Forest for 12 years in a row.  

“Eighty-five percent of a child’s brain develops before the age of 5, so we’re really focused on that fact, and we want to make sure that parents can pick up tips and can find ways to support their children when they leave the event,” said executive director Steve Knobl.

“Any opportunity to build community, promote community and togetherness right now is a good thing, and around literacy is always positive,” McDowell said.  

Spectrum Bay News 9 sponsored this year’s event.