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September 24, 2005

2005 National Book Festival Draws 100,000 Book Lovers to the National Mall

Approximately 100,000 people from the Washington metropolitan area and around the country turned out today to participate in the Library of Congress’ fifth annual National Book Festival on the National Mall.

Seventy-five award-winning writers, illustrators and poets were joined by basketball stars, children’s storybook characters, reading promotion partners and book lovers of all ages in various pavilions throughout the festival grounds. The event is organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by Laura Bush. This year’s festival also marked the launch of the Library's multiyear initiative to celebrate Creativity Across America.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington called the festival "a triumphant celebration of the sheer joy of reading, full of fun and festivities for families."

The day offered something for everyone, with highlights including:

1. Some of the nation’s favorite authors, including R.L. Stine, Neil Gaiman, E.L. Doctorow, David McCullough, Sue Monk Kidd, Linda Sue Park, Giada De Laurentiis, Myrka Dellanos, John Irving and Thomas Friedman. These writers engaged festivalgoers with readings from, and discussions about, their works. Authors signed thousands of books for fans willing to spend hours waiting to meet their

favorite writers. (A complete list of authors and other details of the festival are available at www.loc.gov/bookfest).

2. WNBA star Diana Taurasi, NBA stars Dikembe Mutombo and Baron Davis, and All-Star Bob Lanier from the NBA’s Read to Achieve program. The sports stars spoke to kids about the importance of reading and posed with them for photographs.

3. Letters About Literature’s six young aspiring writers, who received recognition for their letters to authors past and present. The contest asks entrants to write letters to authors who have inspired them to change their view of the world or themselves. The winners were chosen from a field of 46,000 entries. Letters About Literature is an initiative of the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book and is sponsored by Target stores.

4. The Library’s partnership with First Book’s "Book Relief effort, which resulted in the collection of several thousand dollars in small donations from children and families. "Book Relief" is a publishing industry effort that will distribute at least 5 million books to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. First Book (www.firstbook.org) is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to give new books to children in need across the country. To date, First Book has received commitments from the publishing industry for approximately 4.8 million new books for this relief effort.

5. AT&T’s awards of $2,500 grants to 10 local libraries.

6. The Library of Congress pavilion, which featured its Veterans History Project, a grassroots effort to document the stories of veterans from World War I through current conflicts. The Library offered advance copies of the project’s second volume of personal accounts, "Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service," to be published this November by National Geographic. (Copies may be pre-ordered at www.loc.gov/vets/stories/foreverasoldier.)

7. Interactive games in the Kid’s Zone of the Library of Congress pavilion. Children were enthralled by educational and fun games, using touch-screen computers to interact with the Library’s award-winning Web site (www.loc.gov), featuring more than 10 million Americanhistorical items.

8. Two-time Pulitzer prize-winning author David McCullough, whose new book is "1776." He received the annual Reading Advocacy Award presented by Half Price Books. McCullough graciously accepted the award while calling the Library of Congress a representation of "pure democracy." By the end of the day, McCullough had signed more than 700 books.

9. More than 100,000 bookmarks, distributed by the Library of Congress and its reading promotion partners.

"Book TV" on C-SPAN2 broadcast authors live in the History & Biography pavilion, including Thomas Friedman, David McCullough, Robert MacNeil and Joseph Ellis. These programs will be rebroadcast throughout the year.

This year’s National Book Festival was made possible by generous support from Distinguished Benefactor Target; Charter Sponsors AT&T, The Amend Group and The Washington Post; Patrons AARP, Freddie Mac, the James Madison Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; and Contributors Barnes & Noble, Educate Inc., Half Price Books, NBA/WNBA, PBS, Penguin Group (USA) and Scholastic Inc.

For more information about the National Book Festival, visit the Web site at www.loc.gov/bookfest.

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PR 05-212.dcr
09/24/05
ISSN 0731-3527

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