Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Upcoming: 10th Annual National Book Festival

This September 25 marks the 10th annual National Book Festival in Washington, DC. The festival now organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, with the sitting President and First lady as honorary chair-members, was established in 2001 as part of former First Lady Laura Bush's efforts to advocate literacy in America. (As an aside, the forming of this festival is discussed in Mrs. Bush's book Spoken From the Heart.) To learn more about the history of the festival check out the 4-minute video "A Retrospective" that is available on the home page of the National Book Festival website. I highly recommend checking it out, especially for first time festival visitors.

Although this festival has been around for a decade (!) I only learned of it last fall when I met someone who had attended. How could I have been so clueless? An annual national book festival, how cool is that? I headed over to the festival website and it only took a glance to know I would go myself some day... Unfortunately it won't be this year.

If you're like me and only just finding out about the festival, or unable to attend this year I still encourage you to check out the festival website, which is hosted by the Library of Congress.

The festival boasts of over 70 authors and illustrators who will be present on the National Mall from 10am to 5:30pm on Saturday, September 25. Authors will read aloud from their works, books will be signed, and thousands of pictures taken and conversations will be had. Additional information is available on the Book Festival website.

When I first looked over the list of authors and illustrators attending this year's festival I was rather disappointed. I didn't recognize a single one! But when I took a moment to think I realized I was wrong, this year's list may not be the "Who's who" of authors and illustrators, but there are several authors whose works I have read. Authors like: Rosemary Wells will be making her third appearance at the festival (previously in 2002 and 2007). Rosemary Wells is the author of the Max and Ruby books, a series my daughter enjoys. And illustrator Timothy Basil Ering will also be present. His name sounded vaguely familiar and when I looked closer I remembered I'd seen it as the name of the illustrator for Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux. And then there's Katherine Paterson, author of the Newbery Medal winner Bridge to Terabithia (a book I hated) and Jacob Have I Loved (a book I need to read) and Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games fame (a series that, no offense, I'm just not interested in reading).

Although this year's festival isn't heavily populated with big-name authors (last year for example included appearances by Judy Blume, Kate DiCamillo, Shannon Hale, and Lois Lowry just to name a few) that doesn't mean it wouldn't be an enjoyable experience to attend the festival. What better way to discover additional good reads than to attend a book festival and introduce yourself to authors you've never heard read before? Even though I can't attend this year I am planning to select a few authors on the list and read their books, my "from a distance" way of introducing myself to their works. Maybe next year I'll be able to go see first-hand.

Are you planning to attend? Have you attended in the past? Be sure to leave me a comment with your thoughts, or a link to your post about your experiences at the festival.

As always, happy reading!

1 comment:

Carrie said...

I'd never heard of it either! It sounds wonderful though. I hope you get to go some time!