National Book Festival This Weekend

If you’re in the D.C. area this weekend, make plans to stop by the annual National Book Festival on the Mall. Sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by First Lady Laura Bush, the festival features some 70 authors (from children’s book authors, to poets, to novelists) who give talks and sign books.

This year’s list of authors includes children’s book icon R.L. Stein, novelists Philippa Gregory and Alexander McCall Smith, and historian Walter Isaacson.

But for travel enthusiasts like myself, the book festival is hosting Tony Horwitz (Blue Latitudes), Paul Theroux (author of The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia and Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: See the review by our own Don George), and Arthur Frommer (as well as his daughter, Pauline), founder of the famous guidebooks.

Also cool: The festival is free and has tons of activities for children. Each of the festival sponsors tend to have activities in their pavilion (kids can even take pictures with characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George). While the authors speak all day, the festival freebies (posters, bags, etc.) go quickly, so try to get there in the morning. If you need a break, you can always pop into one of the Smithsonian museums that surrounds the Mall.

Photo: Book Festival poster designed by Jan Brett

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