As the summer ends, and fall begins, I know to start checking on-line for the dates of the National Book Festival in DC, sponsored by the Library of Congress. This year it was held on Saturday, August 30th, and for the first time ever, it was not held on the National Mall, but in the DC Convention Center.
In our house, all I have to say is “National Book Festival”, and my kids get excited.
We’ve seen lots of their favorite authors there like Shannon Hale, Rick Riordan, Suzanne Collins (well—we actually just missed her because we had a soccer game and got there just as she finished.L), Michael Buckley, and many others.
The Festival is set up by genre—children, teens, fiction & mystery, history & bio—you get the idea. The authors for each genre are scheduled to speak throughout the day in a designated area. The schedule is online well in advance of the Festival day.
So, a day or two before the Festival, we scour the schedule to see what authors will be there and come up with “our” schedule for the Festival. We’ve learned that because of the crowds it’s a good idea to leave a free timeslot between authors so you have time to get to that room and hopefully get a seat before the author is scheduled to speak. It still may be difficult to get in the room or find a seat, even if you are there early. (We have been disappointed a few times by arriving at the pavilion/room just before the talk is to start, and then not been able to get in).
If it’s an author we really, really want to see, we will sit through a couple of authors before them in the same room, in order to guarantee a spot in that room.
Besides talks by the authors,
they have book signings (each author has a designated time and location), a place to buy books, and several kid-friendly areas. At the Pavilion of the States, kids receive a map of the US that they take to the different tables or “states” to have stamped. The kids enjoy getting the map stamped, and you can learn about famous authors from different states. There are also some giveaways that are fun, like a bag, pencil, poster, lanyard and more, depending on the year.
It’s a fun day out, and going to the Festival always gets me excited to read some more books. And now that it’s at the DC Convention Center, there are lots of places to eat nearby when you’re done.
(There is lots of parking around the Convention Center, but unfortunately you have to pay for most of it. Metered parking is available on the street, but limited to two or three hours. Parking garages are nearby, but more expensive. Before I head downtown to a place where I’m not sure about the parking, I always search online for the cheapest garages in the area. That way I can find the cheapest place, or be mentally prepared for the price. J When we went to the Festival this year, we ended up going later in the day and found a metered spot where we only had to pay until 6:30 pm.)