Published: Mar 17, 2013 11:44 AM EDT
Updated: Mar 17, 2013 11:58 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fl, - It was a picture perfect day for the 14th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival.  More than 18-thousand people walked through Centennial Park and the Harborside Event Center to buy books, meet their favorite authors, and celebrate reading!

From the page, to the canvas, to the screen, the 14th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival brought words and illustrations to life!

Thousands of books, 80 vendors and 25 award winning authors came through Fort Myers.  Children's book author Tedd Arnold was one of the favorites, creating a line of readers anxious to get his autograph.

"What really gets me excited is when I do see them interested in reading and I just hope that one of my silly books encourages them to pick up another book," Arnold says.

"To get up and say, 'I wanna go to a reading festival,' was pretty exciting for me, I always encourage that.  It's what we do before we go to bed every night and she likes to draw and pretend she's illustrator.  Last night she drew a horse before she went to bed," says parent, Mary Franklin.

Organizers say the festival has grown every year and they hope they're sending the message that reading creates a healthier community.

"People are better educated therefore they are more upwardly mobile, there's less crime... this is what it's all about we want everybody to know that it's important that lee county embraces is it and that the library system supports it," says Margie Byers.