Several years ago, I took my son (who was around 10 at the time) and the students in my children’s literature course to an author appearance by Christopher Paul Curtis. His book, Watson’s Go To Birmingham – 1963 had been chosen for the citywide read program. By all accounts, it was an amazing event! Christopher Paul Curtis read aloud the first chapter (which is hilarious), discussed his inspiration for writing the story, and answered questions.
Afterward, as we stood in line to get his autograph, many of my students commented that they had never met an author before. My son was also enamored. He asked Curtis to sign a poster of the book and to take a picture with him. Later, he hung the poster on his door. As he grew into a teenager, almost everything about his room changed – all except the poster of Curtis on the door. He didn’t want to take it down. It represented an important moment in his life; one that made a lasting impression.
Meeting an author is a wonderful experience. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the National Book Festival hosted by the Library of Congress on the National Mall every September. Large tents are set up on the lawn representing genres or age groups and scheduled authors present over the two day weekend. Two of these tents are for children’s and young adult authors. Book enthusiasts from across the country gather under the tents waiting to be wowed by their favorite authors and every year I am lucky enough to be one of them. This year, the festival will be held on September 21-22. Check out the list of children’s and young adult authors appearing this year here.
However, everyone is not able to attend the National Book Festival. Fortunately, each author is videotaped and the recordings are made available on the website for the National Book Festival. Last year, I heard Patricia Polocco and was simply brought to tears by her powerful presentation. I was able to share that experience with my students by showing the video to my class. There are hundreds of videos of authors available, so you can bring the power of meeting the author to your students!