The 2017 National Book Festival in Washington D.C.

Before I dive into discussing our experience at this year’s National Book Festival, I would first like to address my long absence from posting.  This has been a rather tough summer for my family and me.  I’ve been ill since mid June and received the long-awaited diagnosis this last week.  I have a severe case of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) which has left me malnourished and in a lot of pain.  I do plan to write about it at a later date as I do believe that more awareness needs to be drawn to this not so well-known chronic illness.

However, the purpose of this blog is to share our family’s activities and adventures, particularly those that encourage learning.  With that said, I would like to share our experience at this year’s National Book Festival at the Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.  This event is free to the public and attracts bibliophiles of all ages. Hundreds of authors from various genres come to the festival each year to give book talks and sign their work for thousands of eager fans.

National Book Festival Metro
Enjoying one of his favorite books on the way to the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.

We have attended the festival the last two years, and on both occasions we have spent all of our time in the children’s area.  At the 2016 festival, Lil’ Man and I attended Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin’s talk on Click, Clack, Surprise! and Ken Burns’s talk on Grover Cleveland, Again.  We also had the pleasure of meeting all three after their talks and having them sign some books for Lil’ Man.  While we were unable to attend his talk, we did have the honor of meeting award-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney.

We were not as fortuitous this year when it came to attending book talks and meeting authors.  I don’t know if the rain drove everyone in doors, or if the festival is simply becoming more popular.  By the time we arrived at Katie DiCamillo and Dav Pilkey’s book signing lines, almost an hour before the scheduled start time, they were already filled beyond capacity.  While Lil’ Man loves reading Pilkey’s Kat Kong, he wasn’t as disappointed as I was at this discovery.

We did attend Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco’s book talk on their latest work, Big Machines:  The Story of Virginia Lee Burton.  While the book was a bit longer than some of her previous titles, like Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Lil’ Man was captivated by the book reading.  I personally enjoyed Rocco’s emulations of Burton’s classic characters which he drew as Rinker read the book aloud to the audience.

We left the book talk a few minutes prior to its conclusion, a strategy I learned from the previous year, to attend Rinker’s book signing.  I’m so glad we chose to attend her signing as she was wonderful in her interaction with Lil’ Man.  She even personalized Lil’ Man’s copy of Mighty, Mighty Construction Site where as the authors we met last year only signed their names.

We spent the rest of the day participating in the various activities available on the children’s floor.  Lil’ Man loves to participate in the library “scavenger hunt” every year.  Children are given a map of the United States and collect stamps from the various visiting libraries. After completing the hunt, they can show their completed map to a designated volunteer for a prize.

There are several sponsors that offer book readings and other activities throughout the day for children.  Last year, Lil’ Man received a free stuffed pony after attending the Wells Fargo book reading.  This year he received a free copy of Dream Big:  Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Excellence.  This is a great inspirational read for younger children written by Jordan’s mother, Deloris Jordan.

While I may not have been able to go to all the talks or book signings that I originally planned on attending, I feel that overall this was a successful day for our family.  Lil’ Man had a great time and we are already looking forward to next year’s festival.

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