Library of Congress's National Book Festival Attracts More Than 120,000 Book Lovers to the National Mall

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"The National Book Festival is a joyous celebration of reading and an inspiration for new generations of creativity," said Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.

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The National Book Festival is a joyous celebration of reading and an inspiration for new generations of creativity

More than 120,000 book lovers gathered last Saturday on the National Mall for the eighth annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by Mrs. Laura Bush. Festival-goers were entertained by their favorite authors, illustrators and poets as they celebrated creativity and imagination among the favorite standing-room-only pavilions including Let's Read America; the Pavilion of States; Children; Teens & Children; Fiction & Mystery; History & Biography; Home & Family; and Poetry. This year the library showcased its efforts to digitize rare documents and books, including a draft of the Declaration of Independence and previewed the World Digital Library, set to debut in 2009.

The 2008 National Book Festival marked the last year the event was hosted by First Lady Laura Bush. She and her daughter Jenna Bush also presented as co-authors of the children's book, "Read All About It!"

"The National Book Festival is a joyous celebration of reading and an inspiration for new generations of creativity," said Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. "We are grateful to Mrs. Bush for making this a signature event in the nation's capital for the last eight years. Her love of reading has inspired millions to enjoy the Library of Congress in Washington and online and to use their own hometown libraries everywhere."

For those who were unable to attend the festival or missed a pavilion, the authors' presentations are available as webcasts on the festival homepage.

There was something for everyone at this year's festival. Highlights include:

  •     Children enjoyed photo opportunities with favorite storybook characters such as Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Maya and Miguel, SuperWhy, Sid the Science Kid and WordGirl.
  •     Children sang along with PBS' Steve Songs, enjoyed Read Alouds with Ms. Fizzle and Martha from "Martha Speaks", and explored Scholastic's Magic School.
  •     NBA legend Bob Lanier, NBA star Chris Duhon and WNBA star Ivory Latta read aloud and encouraged young readers as part of the Read to Achieve Program.
  •     Over 70 Best-selling authors including the Library of Congress' National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka, and Salman Rushdie, Tiki Barber, David Shannon, Dionne Warwick, Andrea Davis Pickney, Charles S. Smith, Jr., Geraldine Brooks, Peter Robinson, Warren Brown, Cokie Roberts, Kimberly Dozier, Arthur & Pauline Frommer, Dan Chiasson and Jill Allyn Rosser presented and signed books for fans.
  •     The Library of Congress continued expanding the joy of reading with the preview the multi-lingual World Digital Library, set to debut in 2009. Demonstrating how rare documents are digitized mesmerized students of all ages.
  •     The Library of Congress experience included the traveling back in history to 1940 where everyone gathered to use the photo-sharing Web site Flickr and added historical descriptions for the Library to use in the future. Librarians helped those with old books they treasure by teaching the secrets of preservation and conservation.
  •     The winners of the River of Words contest, the annual international environmental art and poetry competition for students K-12, were recognized and presented their award-winning works.
  •     Children's favorite, Bulls Eye the Target Dog and the super-size Big Read Chair, were there for pictures and break-time.
  •     Authors visited their home states in the Pavilion of the States to meet local fans. Also in this pavilion, the favorite feature for young readers and their families, "Discover Great Places Through Reading", was back by popular demand.

The 2008 National Book Festival was made possible with generous support from Distinguished Benefactor Target; Charter Sponsors AT&T and the Washington Post; Patrons the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the James Madison Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; and Contributors Barnes & Noble, Kalima, the Library of Congress Federal Credit Union, Marshall and Dee Ann Payne, NBA/WNBA, PBS, Penguin Group (USA), Scholastic Inc. and US Airways; and Friends the Marshall B. Coyne Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Junior League of Washington once again provided hundreds of volunteers to help with this year's National Book Festival!

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