The New Jersey Center for the Book represented the state of New Jersey at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C sponsored by the Library of Congress on September 24, 2016. More than 120 authors from around the country and thousands of visitors flocked to the Washington Convention Center for the 16th anniversary celebration of the festival that honors Thomas Jefferson’s quote “I cannot live without books.” The Festival is a spirited, public declaration that no one should have to live without books – that a book is a voyage unto itself, taking us to places we might otherwise never go. This year’s theme is A Grand Journey that celebrates that every book is an adventure and reading is an ideal form of travel.
This year was particularly exciting because the newly sworn-in Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, made a point of going around and stopping at all the states’ exhibits in the Pavilion of States. Some of the other notable authors who appeared and were signing copies of their books included adult authors Stephen King, Salman Rushdie, Bob Woodward, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Gleick, Marilynne Robinson, and Joyce Carol Oates. The many favorite authors for children and teens in attendance included Katherine Paterson, Kwame Alexander, Sophie Blackall, Jerry Pinkney, Melissa Sweet, Lois Lowry, Raina Telgemeier, Tonya Bolden, Aaron Becker, Meg Medina, Jacqueline Woodson, Kate Beaton, and many others.
New Jersey’s exhibit recognized the eight-chapter, online serialized mystery entitled, The Jersey Trackers and The Imagination Tree, written by well-known NJ authors and illustrators. The chapters were released on the Center’s website in two-week intervals between March and May 2016 and proved very popular, especially with NJ teachers and students.
New Jersey also joined other East Coast State Centers for the Book by celebrating adult mysteries set along Route 1 as part of the Festival’s Route 1 Reads, celebrating the famous route that goes from Maine to Florida. The book that we chose to highlight was One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich, the first in her long-running series featuring female detective Stephanie Plum that’s set in and around Trenton.
We also promoted Rutgers, the State University, by giving out pins and magnets in observance of its 250th anniversary this year.
Our exhibit was popular, as always, especially because of the salt water taffy from the Jersey shore that we always give away. Many people stopped at our table to ask about Rutgers and the names of the authors and illustrators who contributed chapters to the serialized mystery, and to ask, “Was Janet Evanovich from New Jersey?” The many teachers, parents, grandparents and students who stopped by New Jersey’s exhibit were inspired by The Jersey Trackers and the Imagination Tree e-book and eagerly promised to go to our website to read it.
If you haven’t been to the festival, held every year in August or September, consider a trip to Washington, D.C. to enjoy this wonderful day-long celebration of authors, books, reading and the written word.