THOUSANDS of books on the lives, cultures and stories of African, African American, Asian, Caribbean, Latino and Native American peoples, plus author readings, guest celebrities and other activities are showcased at the Multi-Cultural Children's Book Festival, Saturday from 10 to 5 in the Kennedy Center's Atrium.

Activities include readings, starting at 10:30, by celebrity readers, including Alma Powell, wife of retired Army Gen. Colin Powell; Rachel Robinson, widow of baseball legend Jackie Robinson; African storyteller and author Tololwa Mollel; and African American storyteller Julie Pasqual.

At noon, Powell is scheduled to read "Through My Eyes" by Ruby Bridges, who integrated the public schools in New Orleans in 1960; and "White Tiger, Blue Serpent," illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng. Robinson will read a book written by Natasha Tarpley ("I Love My Hair") and one illustrated by Cedric Lucas ("Night Golf") at 2 p.m.

Hundreds of titles for toddlers through teenagers will be available for purchase for $3.50 to $25. And free posters, buttons and bookmarks will be given away while supplies last.

The festival is produced by the non-profit organization Kids Cultural Books, an off-shoot of Connecticut-based Black Books Galore!, which was formed in 1992 by African American mothers who had trouble finding quality books that represented their children, according to Mary Johnson, a Kennedy Center spokeswoman. The group eventually expanded to include other cultures.

"They had been traveling around the country presenting book festivals," Johnson said. "We found this organization four years ago, and it was so successful that we've brought it back each year." The event usually draws about 5,000 participants.

Admission is free. Call 202/467-4600 (TDD: 202/416-8524).