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Notes from the National Book Festival September 24, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
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High on my list of reasons why I love DC is the National Book Festival, presented by the Library of Congress, the President and Mrs. Obama, every September. I can remember when it was still small enough to be held inside the Jefferson Building itself (admittedly, it was INSANELY crowded) and only had one or two children’s authors I had ever heard of. Now it covers a good stretch of the Mall and people begin lining up at 7am to get a book signed by people like John Green. So many bibliophiles! Happiness!

There are always far more authors I’d like to see at the Festival than I actually have time for, and most years I never manage to spend more than an hour or two there due to rehearsals or other commitments. Waiting in lines for signings can also take multiple hours, so I often have to decide: do I listen to an author speak or wait to smile at them for three seconds and add an autographed book to my library?

This year, I opted to skip the signing lines (it helps that I now work at a bookstore and have more consistent access to author events) and concentrate on listening to presentations. I was able to catch part of speeches by Lois Lowry and Jerry Spinelli, as well as nearly all of Maggie Stiefvater’s. Stiefvater will get her own post, but here are some photos (from very far back, unfortunately) of Lowry and Spinelli.

It occurred to me, as I listened, that both Lowry and Spinelli are authors I was introduced to in a pivotal year for me as a reader, which was third grade. I count second grade as the year I realized the amount of enjoyment you could get from stories (due to the fantastic reading aloud by my teacher that year) but third grade was the year that I think I began to be inspired by books–inspired to create art, plays and songs because I was so moved by these characters and themes. Reading Number the Stars by Lowry and Maniac Magee by Spinelli were watershed moments in my reading life that year, so it was nice to hear them both on Saturday. Now, if Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollboothhad been there and Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dophins) had come back from the dead, the day would have been perfect.

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