This weekend was the 2013 National Book Festival in D.C. For those of you who don’t know, the NBF is a yearly gathering of book lovers hosted by the president and first lady. I’m pretty sure it was started by Laura Bush as part of her literacy cause. Anyways, its two days of readings, book signings and special events in all genres.
Of course the first thing I did was get in line to meet Arthur!
Walking around and taking in the atmosphere on the National Mall was wonderful. The crowd was different than those small groups standing outside Capitol Hill on the mornings I go to work. It was jovial, and a sense of comradery filled me as I listened, read, and explored with my (later aching) feet, the journeys I’ve taken with my mind.
Because that is what this was about, a physical celebration of books, and reading, and what that means.
Immediately, I hung around the Children’s literature with my friend Sara who had the right idea of making me attend even though I was feeling sick. Children’s literature, you see, is the area I would like to one day work in as an editor.
Author Richard Peck read from his book “The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail,” combining his reading with commentary and his insights on writing.
(Cool thing he mentioned: his current book, and last book end on the same day in the same building, two doors apart. You don’t have to read in a particular order!)
It was wonderful for many reasons. But the part that lifted me most was at the end when a woman asked: how can I encourage kids to read?
“They must be read to before they can read themselves. It’s not a school problem; it’s a home problem.”
Both my parents are readers, but I didn’t know that till I was in my teens. Before then, I rarely saw my parents with a book. I, being the kid who didn’t move an inch for hours to finish a book, mistook their concern for a dislike of reading.
I guess it is reasonable to want your child to eat healthy and take proper bathroom breaks…
But I compare my reading habits to say, my boyfriend, who grew up with parents who not only read in front of him on a regular basis, but recommended books. And, of course, before he could read he was read to.
And gosh darn-it, today he’s much more well-read than I am!
Can I add two points to my score since his mom is a librarian?
But I think parental involvement is important for any subject. I write better because when I was younger, my mother would correct my work with me. And over the summer she would buy math workbooks for my siblings and I to give us an hour or two of summer school every day. Today, I’m probably a better mathematician, than I am a reader. At least according to my GRE scores…
What I loved about the NBF was that there were so many parents with young children carrying new books to read later. They were all blossoming book lovers!
So this is really a blog to say: Thank you to the organizers, donors, participants and volunteers for making this happen every year.
And, thank you especially, to those parents who are instilling a love of books in their children. Makes my heart soar!
I ended the day with a ride on the first Merry-Go-Round to desegregate in 1963. I believe I read about that somewhere… 😉