Using Resources from the National Book Festival in your Classroom or Library

The following guest post, part of our “Teacher’s Corner” series, is by Rebecca Newland, a Fairfax County Public Schools Librarian and former Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress.

“Open a Book, Open the World,” 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival poster by Dana Tanamachi

“Open a Book, Open the World,” 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival poster by Dana Tanamachi

Resources from the National Book Festival are a great way to introduce your students to active authors. Because not all students or schools have access to author visits, the Festival videos offer opportunities for students to hear from authors with whom they may be familiar as well as authors new to them.

Students can watch poets and writers reading and discussing their work via recordings from the 2021 National Book Festival and from past Festivals. The videos for 2021 can be sorted by genre, including “Children” and “Teens.”

A search of the Library’s online collections of film and videos, limited to videos from the National Book Festival, currently returns nearly 2,000 Festival videos dating back to 2001. These results can be refined using the left-hand sidebar. Some options include narrowing by date, subject, and author. Alternatively, one could conduct a keyword or phrase search on an author’s name using the search box at the top of the Library’s film and video collections home page. This method would include any videos featuring the author, not just those from the National Book Festival.

Consider watching a video as a class after reading one or more poems by the writer. Ask students how listening to the writer speak about their work changes their experience as readers. If the video includes a poetic reading, offer a printed copy of the work to follow along instead of reading first. Ask how listening to the poet read their own work is different from reading it silently or listening to someone else read.

Suggested poets:

Two resources for the poems of contemporary authors are:

Pair students to explore the Library’s site to find writers about whom they are curious. Demonstrate how to find authors from the 2021 National Book Festival or other years. Create an online bulletin board where students can share links to one or more authors they discovered. Ask pairs to follow up by linking to works when possible or simply listing works by the writers they explored.

In the library, set up a display of the works of poets and writers whose videos are available from the Library of Congress. Create QR codes linking to the videos. Offer the opportunity for students to visit the library for a poetry and literature walk-about during which they can watch videos, check out the writers’ books, and discuss what they have seen with other interested students.

Consider seeking National Book Festival authors on social media to share positive comments from students about the videos. Writers may appreciate knowing that their participation in the National Book Festival is connecting them to students.

How do you use National Book Festival resources with your students?

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