National Book Festival Draws Huge Crowd

October 1, 2005
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October 1-15, 2005 Edition

National Book

Festival Draws

Huge Crowd

WASHINGTON D.C./9/24/05—Approximately 90,000 people from around the country turned out in Washington D.C. to celebrate the library of Congress’ fifth annual National Book Festival on the National Mall. Seventy-five award-winning writers, illustrators and poets were joined by basketball stars, children’s storybook characters, reading promotion partners and book lovers of all ages. The event is organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by First Lady Laura Bush. This year’s Festival marked the launch of the Library’s multi-year initiative to celebrate Creativity Across America.

The day truly offered something for everyone with highlights including:

The Library’s partnership with First Book’s “Book Relief” effort culminated in the collection of several thousand dollars in small donations from children and families. “Book Relief” is an unprecedented publishing industry-wide effort that will distribute at least five million books to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. First Book ( http://www.firstbook.org) is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to give new books to children in need across the country. To date, First Book has received commitments from the publishing industry of approximately 4.8 million new books for this effort. Some of the nation’s favorite authors including R.L. Stine, Neil Gaiman, E.L. Doctorow, David McCullough, Sue Monk Kidd, Linda Sue Park, Giada De Laurentiis, Myrka Dellanos, John Irving and Thomas Friedman entranced festival goers with readings from and discussions about their works. Authors spent hours signing books, including Neil Gaiman, who signed 500 books, and Sue Monk Kidd, who signed 350 books. WNBA star Diana Taurasi, NBA stars Dikembe Mutombo and Baron Davis and All-Star Bob Lanier from the NBA’s “Read to Achieve” program posed for pictures with kids and spoke to them about the importance of reading. “Letters About Literature’s” six young aspiring writers received recognition for their letters to authors past and present who inspired them to change their view of the world or themselves. They were chosen from a field of 46,000 entries. The program Letters About Literature” is a Library of Congress’ Center for the Book initiative, sponsored by Target stores. AT&T awarded $2,500 grants to 10 local libraries. Book TV on C-SPAN2 taped the “History & Biography” authors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including Thomas Friedman, David McCullough, Robert MacNeil and Joseph Ellis, which will be rebroadcast throughout the year. The “Library of Congress” pavilion featured its Veterans History Project, a grassroots effort to document the stories of veterans from World War I through current conflicts. The Library made available advanced copies of its second

volume of personal accounts, “Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service,” to be published this November by National Geographic. Also at the “Library of Congress” pavilion, children were enthralled by interactive games in the Kid’s Zone, using touch- screen computers to interact with the Library’s award-winning Web site, featuring more than 10 million American historical items. Two-time Pulitzer prize-winning author David McCullough, whose new book “1776” sold more than a million copies, received the annual Reading Advocacy Award presented by Half Price Books. After posing for pictures with the life-size book Worm, McCullough called the Library of Congress the “Mother Church of libraries.” He said the Library of Congress was “pure democracy” and that everyone should remember that “there are more public libraries than McDonalds.” By the end of the day, McCullough signed more than 700 books. Over 30,000 bottles of waters and 20,000 seat cushions were distributed by Target, 25,000 bags were distributed by C- SPAN and more than a hundred thousand bookmarks were distributed by the Library of Congress and its reading promotion partners. Barnes & Noble reported that book sales were approximately 20 percent higher as compared to last year’s Festival.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington called the Festival “a triumphant celebration of the sheer joy of reading, full of fun and festivities for families.”

This year’s Festival was made possible by the generous support from Distinguished Benefactor Target; Charter Sponsors AT&T, The Amend Group and The Washington Post; Patrons AARP, Freddie Mac, the James Madison Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; Contributors Barnes & Noble, Educate Inc., Half Price Books, NBA/WNBA, PBS, Penguin Group (USA) and Scholastic Inc.

For more information about the National Book Festival, visit the festival’s Web site at http://www.loc.gov/bookfest.

 

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