National Book Festival is worthwhile investment of time! | Mentoring in the Middle

National Book Festival is worthwhile investment of time!

If you live within a car ride of Washington, D.C., then this is an event you don't want to miss next year!  Sponsored by the Library of Congress and FREE!, this one-day event plays host to many of the authors whose books you talk your students into exploring!

This is just part of the schedule of authors!              
I'm talking about Lois Lowry, Jacqueline Woodson, Katherine Patterson, Raina Telgemeier, Kwame Alexander, Sharon Robinson, Rep. John Lewis, Berkely Breathed....and that's just the beginning of the list that my students would be interested in.

This day wasn't only for children, though.  There were authors for: adult fiction, young adult fiction, history and biography, science, food and home, international, graphic novels, and poetry.

Two authors I particularly enjoyed (and remembered to take pictures of) were Kwame Alexander, author of last year's Newbery Award winning book, The Crossover, and Booked who had some thought-provoking words to share about being African-American in our country today.  When he began reading from Booked, you could have heard a pin drop.  The audience was spell-bound! 

Each author spoke for about 20-30 minutes, and then left time for questions.  Alexander encouraged children to come up and ask questions, and they did.

Sharon Robinson spoke about her book, The Hero Two Doors Down, the story of the friendship between a Jewish boy named Steve and her father, Jackie.  Their unlikely friendship, young boy to professional athlete, has withstood the test of time for their families.  His mom at 97 and Sharon's at 94 are still good friends!  Her positive spirit and funny stories made her a treat to listen to!

I wanted to hear Lois Lowry, but when I arrived and saw how long the line was, I knew there was no way I'd get in.  They could easily have had her speak in a room twice the size.  A lot of disappointed fans walked away from that room!

I can't say enough about this event!  There were tons of volunteers who were easy to spot, the speakers were so engaging, and the event ran like clockwork!  You did a lot of walking from one floor of the convention center to another to see everyone, but if you'd studied the schedule ahead of time, you could plot out where you were going and when.

I'm thinking about seeing if I can get some funds to bring a group of students down next year.  It would make for a long day, and on a Saturday, no less, but when I think about kids meeting their favorite authors?  That kind of overrides everything!

And there were tons of kids there - with parents and in groups.  Nothing makes my heart smile more than a group of kids all sitting around on the floor, reading their new books!  (And yes, I was so entranced I completely forgot to take a picture!)


  1. This looks awesome!!! I would LOVE to go next year!! Thanks for sharing all the good stuff you found!!!

    1. It really was something. So many good authors, all in one place!

  2. This sounds like an amazing event!

  3. Ooooo... Yet another good reason to visit the D.C. area!

  4. How cool is that!?!? I just moved to Colorado from Maryland, but I will tell everybody back home.

    1. Please do! Most of them are so close. There were so many great authors there. Everyone was so pleasant and, except for the $15 hot dogs and hamburgers (we left for lunch!) it was an amazing event!