The Library of Congress continues its “Celebration of the Book” with the 2013 National Book Festival, scheduled for Sept. 21 and 22, between Ninth and 14th streets on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

More than 210,000 people attended the annual book fair in 2012, and similar crowds are expected on the Mall this year, where more than 100 authors—historians, novelists, children’s and teens’ authors, poets, biographers, illustrators and graphic novelists—will be on hand.

Renowned authors and poets Margaret Atwood, Marie Arana, Taylor Branch, James McBride, Jamaica Kincaid, Terry McMillan, Don DeLillo, Khaled Hosseini, Barbara Kingsolver, Brad Meltzer, Joyce Carol Oates, Katherine Paterson and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey will be among the featured writers.

Festivalgoers can meet and hear firsthand from their favorite poets and authors, purchase books and have them signed, have photos taken with PBS storybook characters and participate in a variety of activities.

This year’s celebration is focused on “Books That Shaped the World.”

“Books shape lives and change history,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement. “We join readers the world over in celebrating the book’s unique role in transmitting knowledge, wisdom, culture and enjoyment.”

In an interactive reinforcement of the festival’s theme, fans are invited to go to the official website at and, using a survey form, nominate books that they believe meet that description. Balloting will also take place in-person at the Festival’s Library of Congress Pavilion.

In interviews with the Library, some American authors and illustrators shared the books that impacted their lives.

“The book that saved me the most was “Snowy Day” and “Whistle for Willie” by Ezra Jack Keats,” said Bryan Collier, the African-American illustrator of “I, Too, Am America.”

“It was the first time in publishing history that there was an African-American lead in a book,” he added. “It shifted the whole world. It shifted my world, and it’s still shaking it now.”

On Sept. 22 at noon in the Special Programs Pavilion, fifth- and sixth-grade students will be honored for their participation in the multi-state “A Book That Shaped Me” essay program. During that session, a trio of excellent literacy programs that have won awards in the premiere Library of Congress Literacy Awards also will be announced.

Attendees can also learn more about the unique literary offerings of different U.S. states and territories in the Pavilion of the States, where they can collect state stickers and stamps and “Discover Great Places Through Reading.” The Let’s Read America Pavilion will offer family-friendly entertainment, including sing-alongs, story readings and skill-building activities. The National Endowment for the Arts will sponsor the Poetry & Prose pavilion, which will again feature performances by award-winning students of Poetry Out Loud, an NEA and Poetry Foundation program that encourages high-school students to memorize and perform great poems.

The Digital Bookmobile will also return to the festival for another year. The high-tech exhibit, powered by OverDrive, provides interactive learning stations where visitors can search a library’s digital catalog, use compatible mobile devices and sample popular eBooks, audiobooks, music and video titles. This high-tech update of the traditional bookmobile is equipped with Internet-connected PCs, HD monitors, premium sound systems and portable media players which help visitors explore digital services from their library.

The Library of Congress Pavilion also will showcase treasures in the Library’s vast online collections and offer information about Library programs among scores of other highlights.

For more information, including a full schedule of events, visit:


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO