Education, Travel

The 18th LOC National Book Festival is this Saturday!

We just returned from a busy weekend trip in which we attended Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party on Friday, visited all four Disney World parks on Saturday, and then spent Sunday in Universal Studios and Disney Springs.  Suffice it to say that we are exhausted.  As I type this, I’m sitting here with my second very large cup of coffee of the morning planning out our day for the Library of Congresses’ National Book Festival on September 1, 2018.

This has been one of our favorite events here in Washington D.C., and sadly this will be our last year to attend as we found out last month that we will be PCSing to a new base next summer.  While we are always ready for the next adventure the Air Force sends our way, this event will be greatly missed by our family.

If you are ever in the Washington D.C. area during Labor Day weekend, I highly recommend attending this event.  First of all, it’s free to attend.  Second, there is something there for bibliophiles of all ages.  You can find out what authors are attending the 2018 event here.

Book Festival 2016
Checking out our new book illustrated by Jerry Pinkney while we wait in line to meet him.

While I would love to see Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), we will be spending our time down in the children’s area.  By down, I mean it is on the bottom floor of the Washington Convention Center and the activities available consume the entire space.  Lil’ Man loves the scavenger hunt held by libraries visiting from around the United States.  There are manysponsors there offering free goodies (my favorite is the stuffed horse from Wells Fargo), read alouds, and other educational activities.

National Book Festival SH
Collecting stamps on his U.S. map scavenger hunt.

We first attended the festival back in 2016.  It was just Lil’ Man and I as Adrian was ill, but we had no problems attending book talks and then lining up for the books signings . Lil’ man doesn’t remember, but he had quite the conversation with Ken Burns.  Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (Click Clack Series) were also super sweet to Lil’ Man.

All three of us attended last year’s festival, but this time we found ourselves having to split up in order to see the talks and get books signed.  Adrian would take Lil’ Man to line up for the book signings while I watched the talks.  People had to line up almost an hour before the scheduled book singing for authors like Kate DiCamillo and Dav Pilkey.

Adrian is unable to attend with us this year, so my current strategy is to skip the talks and get the books signed for Lil’ Man.  Our top priorities are two Caldecott author/illustrators:  David Ezra Stein (Interrupting Chicken) and Brenden Wenzel (They All Saw a Cat).  These are two of our favorite picture books and we are so excited that, as long as we line up in time, Lil’ Man will get the opportunity to meet these two authors.

If you have not read Interrupting Chicken and/or They All Saw a Cat, I recommend heading down to your local library and checking them out.  Any parent can appreciate the theme of Interrupting Chicken, and it is a book that I have read regularly for class read alouds.  It is a big hit amongst children and adults alike.  The other book, They All Saw a Cat, is simple in narrative but rich in illustrations.  Through his illustrations, Wenzel demonstrates how we all can see the same thing, but perceive it differently.

A Few Things to Know Before Attending:

  • There is security screening before entering the event.  Know that you can only bring one bag and strollers are permitted.
  • Don’t want to bring a bag from home?  That’s okay, the festival gives free reusable totes to attendees.
  • You can bring your own books.  There are books available for sale (at full MSRP) down in the children’s area, but I have never had an author refuse to sign one of the books we brought from home.
  • Authors will only have time to sign one book per attendee.  I have yet to see an author sign more than one book per person.
  • Some authors will personalize the book for you while others will simply sign their name.
  • If you wish to have a book personalized, write the personalization on a sticky note and place it on the page you want signed.
  • Have questions?  There are tons of helpful volunteers at the festival ready to assist you.  Please don’t hesitate to ask them for help.
  • The food available at the concession stands is not great.  You may wish to exit the festival and eat at a local establishment.  If you leave, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to go through security when reentering the festival.
  • Take the metro to the convention center.  You can get there by using the green and yellow lines.  I do not recommend driving in Washington D.C., especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.

Have you attended the National Book Festival?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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