National (Dog-Eared) Book Festival


I attend the National Book Festival every year, with great excitement and anticipation. Last year, I blogged about the many children’s authors and activities at the festival. This year, I will focus not on children but on dogs (and their human admirers).

Jane Paley and Hooper at the National Book Festival

Jane Paley and Hooper (onstage) at the National Book Festival

On Saturday, September 21, I had the honor of meeting and petting an actual dog who is the star of an actual book. Jane Paley, author of Hooper Finds a Family, shared the stage with Hooper himself and talked to the audience about Hooper’s rescue from Hurricane Katrina and current role as a therapy dog helping children learn to read in libraries. While she spoke, Hooper lay calmly on the stage, smiling, his front legs crossed daintily.

My friends and I also met Clifford the Big Red Dog, after which we listened to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor speak about her books, including Shiloh, the Newbery Medal-winning tale of a dog who is abused but has a happy ending.

The last author I saw on Saturday was William Wegman, who is famous for dressing up and photographing dogs. In his presentation, Wegman said, “Dogs are sensitive to how you feel, so we’ve learned to be kinder, better people through these creatures.”

For me, the main draw of the National Book Festival is hearing authors talk about their work. In addition to Paley, Naylor, and Wegman, I also heard Don DeLillo, Katherine Applegate, Jennifer Holm, Matthew Holm, Kevin Henkes, Tamora Pierce, and Richard Peck.

Besides the author talks, there are also book signings, book sales, kids’ activities, and exhibits. Museum lovers should especially enjoy the Library of Congress pavilion, which showcases displays about the LOC’s collections, history, and programs. Here, the Library of Congress Chorale sang a brief concert of songs, each song relating to an object at the LOC.

Who was your favorite author and/or dog at the National Book Festival this year?

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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