In our family Summer doesn’t really start until we’ve been to the Knox County Public Library’s Children’s Festival of Reading. Year after year the sun shines and children’s literary stars turn out to kick off the Knox County Public Library’s annual summer reading program. This totally free event, to be held on Saturday May 19 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at World’s Fair Park, has got to be the biggest annual children’s event in Knoxville. It’s jam packed with kids’ activities, entertainment, yummy food and lots and lots of goodies.
Sadly, this will be the first year I didn’t get to dream up a fun activity for a Knoxmoms.com booth. But the good news is that I’ll be ‘off the clock’ with my kids in tow this year and be able to soak up every moment with them. So many families flock to this event, but it’s not the nightmare that other big events can be. There’s plenty of room for strollers, there are no really long lines and just about everything is free.
I sat down with Mary Pom Claiborne and Erin Nuygen of Knox County Library to get the inside scoop on the event.
“The theme is Dream Big this summer and the authors are particularly good,” says Mary Pom Claiborne, Director of Marketing/Community Relations of this year’s lineup. “Our slate of authors is as good as you get.”
“And we’re pulling together four of our picture book authors to do a Q&A at 12.45 p.m. in the Author/Illustrator Tent,” adds Claiborne.
Just one of the authors Nuygen and Claiborne are excited about this year is Dan Yaccarino, creator of Willa’s Wild Life, Oswald and The Backyardigans is also author of Every Friday and Lawn to Lawn.
Biscuit, from the well-known early reader book series by Alyssa Capucilli, will be leading the popular parade on the World’s Fair Park lawn. And author, Capucilli will also be a featured author at the festival. More authors include Babymouse Creators and brother/sister team – Jennifer and Matthew Holm; author of Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine; author of Interrupting Chicken David Ezra Stein and an award-winning storyteller and picture book author – Dianne de las Casas. See the full schedule of events below to find out more…
The Mad Science area with Dr Bond the Science Guy has always been a crowd pleaser and this year, Claiborne says they’ll be kicking it up a notch thanks to a partnership with the L&L Stem School students. There will be a whole Science Village. “They’re going to present a bunch of stuff and a team that did a Robotics Science Project in a new area.” Explore the Un-science fair in the village too!
Indie group, Lunch Money, will be in touch performing for families at the festival too. “They do the family circuit we’re excited about having them,” says Claiborne. “They’ll be doing a couple of performances.”
According to Claiborne all event vendors are carefully vetted to ensure they are relevant to children’s education and welfare. “It’s not a grab fest,” explains Claiborne. ” Every group that’s here has to do a literary activity. And there’s lots of arts and crafts. They (festival goers) are highly engaged.
Last year the author’s tent was relocated to the middle of the lawn and made traffic flow a little easier, so it will be in the same place again. Expect to find various food vendors and the family tent for nursing and baby changing again this year. And the Friends of the Library will be hosting their huge used book sale again this year. We always pick up some great bargains for summer reading there!
“Having a child meet an author i think is a big deal,” says Nuygen of the festival. “To realize that they’re a real person and that’s a great connection to make.”
To find out more about this year’s festival go to http://knoxlib.org/cfor
Schedule of events:
DREAM BIG Stage:
10:00 a.m. OTIS! presented by Dollywood’s Imagination Playhouse
10:45 a.m. Alyssa Capucilli and “Biscuit”
11:15 a.m. Dan Yaccarino
11:45 p.m. David Ezra Stein
12:15 p.m. Dream Big Parade of Books!
12:45 p.m. Gail Carson Levine
1:30 p.m. Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
2:15 p.m. Lunch Money
Author’s and Illustrator’s Stage:
10:00 a.m. Melissa Thomson
10:30 a.m. Gail Carson Levine
11:00 a.m. Jennifer & Matthew Holm
11:45 a.m. Jennifer Trafton
12:45 p.m. Picture Book Panel with Julie Danielson
1:45 p.m. Melissa Thomson
2:15 p.m. Jennifer Trafton
10:00 a.m. David Claunch
10:30 a.m. Dianne de Las Casas
11:15 a.m. Knoxville Zoo
11:45 a.m. Faye Wooden
12:45 p.m. David Claunch
1:30 p.m. Faye Wooden
2:15 p.m. Dianne de Las Casas
10:15 a.m. Miss Lynn Hickernell
11:00 a.m. Lunch Money
11:45 a.m. Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
12:45 a.m. Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
1:15 p.m. Miss Lynn Hickernell
2:15 p.m. Jodie Manross & Laith Keilany
Children’s Performance Stage:
10:00 a.m. Center Stage Dance and Cheer
10:30 a.m. Sensei Toni and Students
11:00 a.m. Natalee Elkins and Kids in America Show Choir
11:25 a.m. Scarf Dance, SOMETHING GREATER by Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble
11:30 a.m. Bethany Hankins and violinists
1:00 p.m. Angela Floyd Dancers and Muscians
2:00 p.m. Wah Luhm