Photo by Emily Morgan

NORWALK — Families enjoyed music, food, storytellers, hockey demonstrations and plenty of books at The Carousel of Reading event on Saturday.

Norwalk Public Schools distributed 40,000 free books to students and families, as part of the First Book Initiative. Families could find age-appropriate books for children from pre-K through high school as well as books for adults.

The carousel and carnival theme ran throughout the event with inflatables and touch-a-truck activities outside as well as hockey demonstrations with the New York Rangers. Families could also enjoy storytellers reading their books, food truck vendors and 5ive Fingaz artwork.

Volunteers have spent the previous week organizing the books in the gymnasium at Norwalk High School, preparing for the arrival of the children and filling a bag full of books to take home. Unclaimed books will be distributed throughout the district to school libraries and classrooms as well as the Norwalk Public Library and Norwalk Reads.

“I love the books,” said Helen Johnson, a junior from Brien McMahon High School, who spent her Thursday night helping with the set-up. “It’s a great way to give back to the community and help others develop a love of reading.”

Josselyn Paute, also a junior at Brien McMahon who is part of a school book club with Johnson, added: “Our passion for reading is why we are here.”

A $10,000 grant from First Book will also allow district teachers to order more books for their students and classrooms.