Some of our nation’s most important events have happened on the National Mall. Having the 11th annual National Book Festival in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s memorial demonstrates the importance of books and reading in our lives. The free festival is organized and sponsored by The Library of Congress. More than 100 authors, illustrators and poets shared their work with an estimated 200,000 visitors on September 24 and 25. There was something for everyone: graphic novels; history and biographies; fiction and mysteries; and of course, a children’s section.
“It’s really thrilling to be at the National Book Festival where reading and literacy and good books are the focus for the entire country,” said author and illustrator Brian Selznick. He won the Caldecott award for his illustrated mystery, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Let’s Read, America!
In the Let’s Read America pavilion, children made bookmarks, created their own books, listened to stories and participated in other reading-related activities. The theme of this year’s festival was “Celebrate the Joys of Reading Aloud.” Authors read their books while the illustrations were displayed on large-screen televisions so that everyone could see. Several characters were also on hand to celebrate the day, including The Cat in the Hat, Curious George and Arthur.
Authors, Illustrators and Poets...Oh My!
Authors at the festival stressed the importance of books in children’s lives. They recalled books that they read as children and shared their recommendations for books they thought all children should be familiar with. The list included classics such as Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain; Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls; and Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White.
Of course, there are new books that you can dig into as well. Author and actress Julianne Moore was at the festival to share her latest book, Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever. This is the third book about Freckleface Strawberry, a character based on Moore as a child. She talked to TFK about what it meant to have her work celebrated at the National Book Festival. “It’s so fun,” she said. “It’s a nice way to be part of a book-reading community.”
Do you have dreams of becoming an author? Author and illustrator Tomie dePaola has this advice: “Read, read, read then read some more!”
To learn more about the festival, go to loc.gov/festival.