Here’s What to Expect for This Year’s National Book Festival

by Tim Regan September 22, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

National Book Festival 2016Each year, the National Book Festival brings hundreds of authors and thousands of literature lovers to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Place NW) for a free celebration of books.

Organizers are scheduled to throw open the doors to this year’s event Saturday at 8:30 a.m. From 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., attendees are free to wander the convention center in search of fun activities and booths manned by their favorite authors.

Author Stephen King, writer and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and famed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward are just some of the celebrity guests that will attend this year’s event.

Not sure what you should do and see this year? Here are a few highlights:

  • Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will be on hand to sign autographs and talk about his new book for kids, “Grover Cleveland, Again! A Treasury of American Presidents.”
  • Kate Beaton, the creative force behind “Hark! A Vagrant!” will promote her children’s book, “King Baby.”
  • There will be a poetry slam for teens that will “will include some of the nation’s top youth slam groups.”
  • Newt Gingrich writes fiction. He’ll attend the festival to promote his newest story, “”Duplicity” (Center Street),” a thriller set in the District.
  • Rep. John Lewis is slated to promote the third volume in his graphic novel trilogy, “March.”
  • Two words: Diane Rehm.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, author of more than 40 stories, plays, novellas and works of poetry, won’t be there to promote her Twitter account, but she will attend the festival to talk about two of her latest books.
  • Frequent NPR guest and pop-science writer Mary Roach is scheduled to speak about her latest book, “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.”

Of course, these are just a few more than 120 appearances and signings planned. Attendees can formulate their game plan by checking out the festival’s map or downloading its app.

Learn more about the festival in the press release below:

The 16th National Book Festival will be held at the Washington Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (doors open at 8:30 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, Sept. 24. The event is free and open to the public.

The distinguished benefactor of the festival is David M. Rubenstein. Rubenstein also funds the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program.

National Book Festival sponsors will offer family-friendly activities on the exposition floor in Halls A, B and C and will be open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m.

In addition to the daylong activities, scheduled special events will be offered and posted on the festival website to help visitors plan the day. Details will also be available on the festival event app to give visitors additional scheduling tools.

Festivalgoers can stop by the Literacy Corner, presented by Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program, to learn what literacy is and why it is important from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parents, children, caregivers and educators can participate in activities that highlight the joy and importance of reading, such as recording a story with Literacy Award winner United Through Reading or watching a Little Free Library being built. There will also be giveaways, face painting, a superhero selfie booth and a chance to say hello to Maisy Mouse.

Charter Sponsor AARP will feature its literacy-focused programs for people of all ages in an exciting and interactive space filled with surprises, activities and contests, including a giant coloring wall, a virtual reality experience with a tour of the Library of Congress and an opportunity to get one’s photo on the cover of AARP Magazine. Festivalgoers can play “Hit the Books,” an informative, interactive twist on a classic board game that educates players on the importance of early literacy and nurturing good brain health, along with fun pop-culture trivia. AARP will showcase useful publications on topics ranging from money, work and retirement to health, home, family and caregiving. Contests, giveaways and opportunities to win interesting, fun and educational prizes will occur throughout the day. AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins will discuss her new book, “Disrupt Aging,” which examines pathways forward for living one’s best life at every age, on the Contemporary Life stage from 3:15 to 4 p.m. She will sign her book from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Attendees can talk to representatives of their home states and learn about each state’s literary heritage from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the Pavilion of the States. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the major sponsor of this pavilion, with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). IMLS and NEH support makes it possible for an affiliate of the Library’s Center for the Book in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories to participate in the festival. The “Discover Great Places Through Reading” brochure offers a list of 52 great reads and a map for kids that encourages them to visit all 52 affiliates to get a unique sticker or stamp. Many of these books will be for sale in the festival bookstore.

Celebrate literature with The Washington Post through an exciting series of daytime activities. Families are invited to attend readings by local children’s book authors and pick up color-your-own, comic book-themed bookmarks throughout the day. The Post’s mascot, Ned the Newshound, will make a special appearance from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to pose for photos with festivalgoers.

As part of the Post’s longstanding partnership with the festival, more than 20 Washington Post journalists and editors will moderate discussions with authors, including the Graphic Novels and Books to Movies evening programs. A special edition of “Book World” covering the day-long programming will be available at information booths and will be published in the newspaper prior to the festival on Sunday, Sept. 18.

This year Wells Fargo is introducing the My Untold Story exhibit to its array of family friendly programs. Festivalgoers will have an opportunity to celebrate and learn more about African American experience, and also to contribute to documented history by sharing personal stories as recorded testimonials at their video booth. Wells Fargo representatives will continue to read and share a large assortment of children’s books, and, of course, the Wells Fargo Stagecoach and hands-on history activities will be onsite as well.

The National Endowment for the Arts sponsors the Poetry & Prose stage of author presentations (Room 145AB), which will again feature readings and discussions by award-winning writers and poets, many of whom have received NEA Literature Fellowships. The Poetry & Prose pavilion will open with student champions from Poetry Out Loud, an NEA and Poetry Foundation program in which high-school students memorize and perform classic and contemporary poems in competition.

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center, the National Endowment for the Arts and the poetry organization Split This Rock will also present the National Book Festival Youth Poetry Slam in Teens at 7:30 p.m., showcasing slammers from New York, Des Moines, Indianapolis, and Washington, D.C.

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) will return as the Library’s primary partner for volunteer support, a role the organization has played since 2003. Nearly 400 JLW volunteers will manage the book-signing lines and staff other locations throughout the festival. JLW is committed to promoting volunteerism, improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers and developing the potential of women. Learn more about the JLW, its mission and its focus on literacy at the JLW table.

Scholastic returns to the festival with an array of giveaways, tips and titles to help inspire the joy and power of reading and “Open a World of Possible” for all children. Young festivalgoers can pose for a photo with their favorite literary characters and create their own story or illustration that will be featured on the Scholastic “Open a World of Possible” wall. Festivalgoers can relax in the reading corner, which will feature new Scholastic releases, with read-alouds scheduled every hour.

The Mensa Education & Research Foundation is working with the Library for the fifth year to create a Children’s Guide to the festival.The guide will be available online and at selected locations at the festival.

Authors with fans of all ages will discuss and sign their books on the Graphic Novels stage presented with the assistance of the Small Press Expo.

C-SPAN2’s Book TV will be live from this year’s National Book Festival – as it has been for every festival. Its coverage of the festival will include author presentations and author call-in segments from the Book TV set. The network will also provide its ever-popular festival bag – this year in red – available at information booths, the bookstore and outside the History & Biography stage.

PBS Book View Now, the nationally distributed book and author channel, will provide six hours of live coverage at the 2016 National Book Festival. Book View Now’s live-stream presentation will air from noon to 6 p.m. Eastern Time at Coverage will be co-hosted by Book View Now’s executive producer, Rich Fahle, and PBS NewsHour’s chief correspondent for arts, culture and society, Jeffrey Brown.

NPR will be part of the festival throughout the day, with many of its well-known hosts, correspondents and critics introducing and interviewing authors.

The National Book Festival is made possible by the generous support of private- and public-sector sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy, led by National Book Festival Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein. Charter Sponsors are AARP, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsors, The James Madison Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; the Contributor-level sponsors are FedEx, The Junior League of Washington and Scholastic Inc.; and in the Friends category, Centro Primo Levi, the Marshall B. Coyne Foundation Inc., GEICO, the Embassy of Italy, the Embassy of Latvia, the Embassy of Sweden and the Swedish Arts Council, the Embassy of Uruguay, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, The Hay-Adams, Mensa Education and Research Foundation, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Small Press Expo, SPAIN arts & culture and Split This Rock. Media Partners are C-SPAN2’s Book TV, PBS Book View Now and NPR. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at [email protected].

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States–and extensive materials from around the world–both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at

Photo via Facebook / National Book Festival


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