September 29, 2009

Books are still cool! 130,000 attend National Book Festival in D.C.

Original photos by Caroline Treadway!

Booklovers young and old spilled onto the National Mall for the Ninth Annual Book Festival in Washington, D.C., this year. When the dusty, muggy morning morphed into a rainy afternoon, the umbrellas came out and the attendees huddled in tents mingling with their favorite authors and listening to them read.

I mean, Judy Blume, Jon Grisham and Ken Burns—how cool!

For me, the coolest thing at the Book Festival was listening to award-winning documentarian Ken Burns (think Baseball, Civil War, National Parks…) read The Little Engine That Could to a tent full of children and parents. And he wasn’t just reading, he was into it. I could tell that book meant something to him, shaped him somehow, like it did me.

My roommate, Daisy, from Taiwan, who was covering the event for a New England newspaper said, “What is this book?” And I realized that books like The Little Engine That Could, embedded with American morals, have quietly sculpted my values from the very beginning. Those books have also sculpted the minds of those in my community, their motivations, attitudes and work ethics. I know, duh, but it was a little epiphany for me.

Some of the other authors I shot were:

Steven Kellogg, of Norwalk, Connecticut, who has illustrated nearly 90 books. This photo made it to the front page of the Sunday Norwalk Hour!

John Irving, who wrote The Cider House Rules, The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany, among others.

George Pelecanos, who has authored 15 crime novels and thrillers and has written for The Wire.

Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, who have recently collaborated on the popular Spiderwick Chronicles.

Jeff Kinney, a cartoonist who created the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the last of which is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw.

And Mary Brigid Barrett, who wrote Sing to the Stars, The Man of the House at Huffington Row among others. She is also the president and executive director of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance.

And below is my favorite moment: I caught a grandmother, Cindy Lucas, of Virginia, reading to her granddaughter, Monica, on a relatively quiet bench amid the hubub.

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