National Book Festival
Washington Travel Blog› entry 8 of 27 › view all entries
Despite predictions of rain, the day began with bright sunshine and just spotty clouds as Kimberleigh and I left the house. We picked Erin up and then continued on over to the Suitland Metro station. Here we bought tickets and checked on Smartcard balances. Kimberleigh's mom showed up just as our train did so with a little bit of rushing, we all got on.
Popping up out of the Smithsonian metro stop, we were greeted by the growing grey skies and helpful volunteers passing out purple programs. We walked over to the first tent and picked up our free totebags and festival posters. Our media specialist had asked if we could pick up a poster for her, and the volunteer easily fulfilled my request.
We then scooted over to the Children's tent because I wanted to hear Jon Scieska speak and he along with five other authors/illustrators was listed for this first hour of the festival.
First regular speaker of the morning was in the Fiction & Fantasy tent: Jodi Picoult. I have not actually read any of her books yet but I plan to change that fact in the next few months. She was bubbly and passionate about her writing. She has grown incredibly from the young woman who when hearing the answering machine message from Seventeen magazine offering to pay her for a short story, she then called all her friends to see if it was one of them joking with her to an acclaimed author who now gives advice to aspiring writers (read, write often and frequently, take a fiction workshop course, finish whatever you write).
After listening to Picoult, we ventured over to the Library of Congress's little tent. Here, workers showed us the LOC's Flickr site where we could search for historical images across all subjects.
Our next tent was at almost the opposite end of the festival: the Pavillion of States. Erin and I picked up little maps that were stamped or stickered at each state's table. Kimberleigh's mom veered off from us to go try to get an author's signature. We had fun seeing the promotion of literary programs in each state, but the crowds were a bit overwhelming.
After grabbing lunch (a cheese sandwich for me), Erin and I continued back to the Children's tent to hear Lois Lowry talk.
Julia Alvarez is one of top Latina authors in the US right now and being Spanish teachers, Erin and I were both very interested to hear her speak. I had never read any of her works fully although I'm pretty sure I read an excerpt as part of a literature course my freshman year of college, and after listening to her speak, I am eager to check out In The Time of the Butterflies. Several important quotations:
"We become brave almost by accident.
"A way to cultivate an elastic, inclusive imagination is by reading."
"American treasurehouse of public libraries." (Alvarez stated that she would not have become a writer if not for our public libraries.)
"Anyone can sit down at this table [reading]."
"You can't help but tell the stories that are in you to tell."
With the rain picking up, Kimberleigh's mom decided to leave, and she went with her. Erin and I walked back to the Pavillion of the States and managed to finish our maps. We ducked into the PBS area just long enough to pick up another bag. This actually came with a few goodies such as a young children's book and simple DVD. Then we also decided to head home. Discovering the Smithsonian station closed, we detoured over to L'Enfant which actually worked to our advantage, no line switching now.