Book lovers of all ages came together by the tens of thousands to celebrate reading and meet their favorite authors Saturday at the 18th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Thousands more watched the festival’s Main Stage streamed live on the Library’s Facebook page.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden interviewed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who launched a children’s book on the festival’s 2,500-seat Main Stage. Hayden also interviewed Jacqueline Woodson, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, who is debuting two new books this fall.
Hayden announced the 19th National Book Festival will be held Aug. 31, 2019.
“The National Book Festival is a thrilling, immersive experience that gives so many readers a unique opportunity to reflect on great books all day long,” Hayden said. “We are so proud to feature a diverse lineup of more than 100 authors who give visitors a new reading list for the year ahead.”
In total, 13 authors launched new books at the festival - the most new books in the festival’s history - including Sotomayor’s “Turning Pages: My Life Story,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Leadership: In Turbulent Times;” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo’s “Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist;” Kate DiCamillo and Harry Bliss’ “Good Rosie!” Meg Medina’s “Merci Suárez Changes Gears;” Jennifer Nielsen’s “Resistance;” David Shannon’s “Grow Up David!” Suzanne Slade’s “Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon;” David Ezra Stein’s “Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise;” Woodson’s “The Day You Begin” and “Harbor Me;” Ellen Hopkins’ “People Kill People;” Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “Trust Me;” and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s selections for “American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time.”
On the festival’s Fiction Stage, Hayden awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction to acclaimed writer Annie Proulx, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Shipping News” and the short story “Brokeback Mountain.” The prize, one of the Library’s most prestigious awards, honors an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished for its mastery of the art, originality and imagination.
Proulx urged the crowd to make literacy a top priority for children.
"You can never introduce your child to reading too early," Proulx told the crowd, adding that they should start reading to babies before they're born and as often as possible. "If you repeat this recipe every day ... you will have a smart, intelligent, involved person in your life."
On Friday, Hayden also announced the winners of the 2018 Library of Congress Literacy Awards, honoring organizations for their exemplary, innovative work to confront illiteracy, raise reading levels and promote reading. The top prizes were awarded to: Reading Is Fundamental of Washington, D.C.; East Side Community School of New York City; and Instituto Pedagógico para Problemas del Lenguaje of Mexico City.
The festival’s celebration of reading and writing kicked off earlier in the week with a pinning ceremony for the 2018 National Student Poets, who represent five regions of the country and presented their work on the festival’s Parade of the States Stage.
The National Book Festival is made possible by the generous support of private- and public-sector sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy, led by National Book Festival Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein. Charter sponsors are the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsors are The James Madison Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Champion-level sponsor is PBS; Contributor-level sponsors are National Geographic and Scholastic Inc.; and, in the Friends category, AARP, Booklovers Circle members, Bookshare - a Benetech initiative, Buffy Cafritz, Marshall B. Coyne Foundation Inc., Joseph and Lynn Deutsch, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction administered by The University of Alabama School of Law, The Hay-Adams, The Junior League of Washington, Leon Levy Center for Biography (CUNY), Library of Congress Federal Credit Union, J.J. Medveckis Foundation, Mensa Foundation, Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham, Timothy and Diane Naughton, Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, Reading Is Fundamental, Small Press Expo (SPX), Split This Rock and the Whittle School & Studios. Media Partners are C-SPAN2’s Book TV, The New York Times, NPR and PBS Books. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at email@example.com.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States - and extensive materials from around the world -both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.