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This Saturday is the 2018 Library of Congress National Book Festival!



If you’re going to be in town this holiday weekend — and especially if you’ve got some bookworms in your crew — plan for one of DC’s biggest, most anticipated annual events on Saturday: The 18th Annual Library of Congress National Book Festival!

Book enthusiasts young and old come from all over for the day of reading-related activities. Works by more than 100 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased, and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances.

All genres are represented on stages throughout the festival — Children, Teens, Contemporary Life, Thrillers & Fantasy, Fiction, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Graphic Novels — where readings, presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests will take place. And a Book Sales area gives guests an opportunity to purchase selected reads — and possibly have them signed by the authors.

If your children love books, chances are an author of one of their favorite stories will be there. Kate DiCamillo, Jason Reynolds, Danica McKellar, and David Ezra Stein are just a few of many. Kids will also be able to enjoy an array of fun and exciting activities on the Expo Floor, from the Parade of States where they can learn about each state’s literary heritage and collect a stamp to special story times to poetry slams to National Geographic’s Explorer Academy, and much more.

Of course, there’s bound to be an author — or several — that parents will be excited about, too. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will launch her first book, Turning Pages, at the festival. Best selling authors Isabel Allende, Dave Eggers and Amy Tan; former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; and Pulitzer Prize-winning historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham will be featured on the Main Stage. And acclaimed writers Jeffrey Eugenides, Annie Proulx, Ron Chernow, Richard Russo, Celeste Ng, and Tara Westover are among the many that will be presenting.

Have a look for yourself at the complete list and start planning your National Book Festival experience. Most presentations are first come, first served — and people do line up early to get seats, so plan accordingly.

The 2018 Library of Congress National Book Festival
Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center | Downtown DC
When: Saturday, September 1, 9am – 7:30pm (doors open 8:30am)
Admission: FREE

*Information on getting there and parking is available here.

*You can read about one of our past visits when it was still held on the National Mall — including an interview with Magic Treehouse author Mary Pope Osborne! — here.


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The 17th Annual Library of Congress National Book Festival is on Saturday!



If you’re going to be in town this holiday weekend, then plan to book it to one of DC’s biggest, most anticipated annual events on Saturday: The 2017 Library of Congress National Book Festival!

Book enthusiasts young and old come from all over for the day of reading-related activities. Works by more than 100 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased, and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances.

All genres are represented on stages throughout the festival — Children, Teens, Contemporary Life, Thrillers & Fantasy, Fiction, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Graphic Novels — where readings, presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests will take place. And a Book Sales area gives guests an opportunity to purchase selected reads — and possibly have them signed by the authors.

If your children love books, chances are an author of one of their favorite stories will be there. Kids will also be able to enjoy an array of fun and exciting activities on the Expo Floor, from a literacy corner reading space to special story times and a Where’s Waldo scavenger hunt.

Even more, there’s bound to be a writer — or many — that parents will be excited about, too. David McCullough, Diana Gabaldon, J.D. Vance, Thomas Friedman, and Julia Glass are among the many that will be in attendance. Have a look for yourself at the complete list and start planning your National Book Festival experience. Most presentations are first come, first served — and people do line up early to get seats, so plan accordingly.

The National Book Festival will be held at the Washington Convention Center on Saturday, September 2, from 9am – 7:30pm. Admission is free. You can read about one of our past visits when it was still held on the National Mall — including an interview with Magic Treehouse author Mary Pope Osborne! — here.

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The Library of Congress: A Local & National Treasure for All Ages

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress

The magnificent Great Hall at the Library of Congress



Recently, I realized I had yet to post a write-up about the Library of Congress. Which is kind of surprising given that we live just blocks away, within walking distance, and it’s one of DC’s most iconic, fascinating, beautiful attractions that makes for a great outing with kids.

We don’t visit all that frequently, but we’ve spent a decent amount of time there over the years. I used to pop in more when the kids were little to stroll around the grand space, and Sasha and I would occasionally attend story time on Fridays at the Young Readers Center. And while I’ve mentioned it here and there over the years to recommend those regular book readings and other special events for families, there’s been no KFDC dedicated post. Until now.

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It was the recent announcement of new Saturday hours at the Young Readers Center that brought this to my attention. Dedicated to readers from babies to teens, visitors are welcome to explore the collection of books and enjoy both regular and occasional special programs for kids and parents. On the shelves you’ll find everything from board and picture books to early reader chapter books to middle reader series and YA novels. And while you can’t check them out of the library, guests are free to settle in there with a good read.

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Within such a palatial, stately building, the space is a nice, cozy place to hang out and read with kiddos (or let older kids read on their own). Plenty of comfy seating and even stuffed animals to snuggle with are available. There are also small toys around for little ones to play with as they explore. The Young Readers Center is open Monday through Saturday 9am – 4:30pm, and hosts a free story time every Friday at 10am (space is limited to 50 people, so plan accordingly).

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Don’t make that your only stop on an outing to the Library of Congress! There is so much to see and do beyond that — it’s the largest library in the world, after all. The magnificent architecture and stunning design alone will wow visitors young and old. Stand in the Great Hall and look around — you’ll see lots of other people gazing up at the ornate ceilings, reading inscriptions on walls, examining sculptures and paintings and even the beautiful floors, and just wandering around marveling at it all. There are interactives where you can get information about the significance, history, and artistry of the various features. And two very popular displays are a Giant Bible of Mainz and an original Gutenberg Bible.

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From the Great Hall, you can easily access Thomas Jefferson’s Library, a reconstruction of the president’s library arranged in the same particular order he preferred. There are 2,000 volumes from his original collection, plus another 3,000 or so that match those destroyed in an 1851 fire at the Capitol. It’s a huge and impressive treasury of books!

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

Taking in the view ofthe Main Reading Room

Another must-see is the Main Reading Room, which you can’t actually enter without a special pass but can view from an overlook. The vast space has ceilings 160 feet high and at the center of its dome is a mural depicting twelve figures representing “the countries, cultures, and eras that contributed to the development of Western civilization as understood in 1897.” Be sure to also take a look around at the bronze statues representing great influences in various subjects. (This area is accessible to researchers ages 16 and up. Go here to learn more.)

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The exhibit Exploring the Early Americas contains an interesting collection of rare maps, paintings, and artifacts. Show kids what explorers thought the world looked like centuries ago, and get a close look at a case of ceramic flasks and vessels sculpted with faces and symbolic designs.

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There are even more exhibits downstairs that change out seasonally. Recently, paraphernalia highlighting presidents and the women’s movement were showcased. Follow the long hallway and you’ll come to the Bob Hope and American Variety exhibit and the American Folk Life Center. There is even a room of pianos dedicated to Gerswhin.

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I should note that all of this is in the Thomas Jefferson Building, one of three that make up the entire Library of Congress. It’s great to explore on your own, but guided tours are also available hourly every day beginning at 10:30am until 3:30pm (2:30pm on Saturdays). You can also check the calendar for any other programs taking place.

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And if you’re feeling ambitious about your day out, take the tunnel from the Library to the U.S. Capitol Building. Yes, you can follow a long underground hallway to the Capitol Visitor Center and embark on a whole new tour there!

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The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 8:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is free.


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The 2016 Library of Congress National Book Festival

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Book lovers, mark your calendars! On September 24, readers of all ages are invited to join some of the country’s most celebrated authors for the 16th Annual Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for the day of reading-related activities. Works by more than 120 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances.

All genres are represented on stages throughout the festival — Children, Teens, Picture Books, Contemporary Life, Culinary Arts, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Science and Special Programs — where readings, presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests will take place. And a Book Sales area gives guests an opportunity to purchase selected reads — and possibly have them signed by the authors.

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If your children love books, chances are an author of one of their favorite stories will be there (Andrea Beaty, author of the hugely popular Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, among them). Kids will also be able to enjoy an array of fun and exciting activities on the Expo Floor. Last year, Sasha had a blast visiting booths representing every state and getting her passport stamped to earn a special souvenir.

Even more, there’s bound to be a writer — or many — that parents will be excited about, too. Joyce Carol Oates, Salmon Rushdie, Lauren Groff, Sarah Vowell, even Stephen King (!) are among the many that will be in attendance. Have a look for yourself at the complete list and start planning your National Book Festival experience. Most presentations are first come, first served — and people do line up early to get seats for the favorites — the Stephen King presentation requires tickets, which are free and will be issued electronically on September 14 at 9am.

The National Book Festival will be held at the Washington Convention Center on Saturday, September 24, from 9am to 10pm. Admission is free. You can read about one of our past visits — including an interview with Magic Treehouse author Mary Pope Osborne! — here.

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