This year’s National Book Festival is all online, which means that we can travel to and explore many real and imaginary places from the comfiest spot in our home. Authors are connecting with us from all across the country, and readers from all over the world are tuning in to celebrate the love of reading, together.
All fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a unique way of joining in the celebration of the National Book Festival: the Center for the Book. In collaboration with the Library of Congress, each center implements literary programs, awards, and prizes in order to nurture and expand a culture of literacy and reading. Find your state’s center here.
Each year, a list of books representing the literary heritage of these fifty-three jurisdictions is distributed by the Center for the Book during the National Book Festival, and this year is no different. Discover State Reads is a special page on the virtual National Book Festival platform that will take you to the book of each state and you can learn about the literary face of each state and territory. You can find the Roadmap to Reading and state selections on the “Discover State Reads” tab on the festival website. Prepare by bookmarking the National Book Festival’s virtual platform. Don’t forget to register in advance!
How will your family choose which state’s book selection to explore?
- Start with your home state! And if your family members live or were born in different states, find those too.
- A state you have visited before
- A state you want to visit one day
- Home state of your favorite author
- A state with a landmark you love
You could find something fascinating about a state of your choice in the Library of Congress digital collections. Pick up some history facts and select a book to read from a state whose history you find most intriguing.
Or you might want to choose by topic of the selected book:
- Animals and Nature: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Utah, Washington
- Diversity in the United States: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, DC, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, West Virginia
- History and Heritage: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wyoming
- Inspirational Stories: Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Wisconsin
- Mythology and Fantasy: Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire
- STEM: Delaware, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio
Note: Hawaii’s and North Dakota’s selections are general fiction titles (not children’s or teen)
If you want to connect all of your virtual National Book Festival activities together, explore the states that are featured in the following National Book Festival children’s and teen titles:
Teen Stage: Gene Luen Yang, “Dragon Hoops.” In his graphic novel, “Dragon Hoops,” bestselling author Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, basketball and the high school where he teaches.
Children’s Stage: Kelly Yang, “Three Keys.” This is the sequel to the runaway hit starring Mia Tang, “Front Desk!” This time, Mia thinks she’s going to have the best year ever, although 6th grade turns out to be tougher than she thought. An immigration law is looming and, if it passes, it will threaten her and everyone she cares about. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it’s Mia Tang!
Children’s Stage: Barb Rosenstock, “Leave It to Abigail The Revolutionary Life of Abigail Adams.” Caldecott winner Rosenstock and artist Elizabeth Baddeley tell the story of one of the greatest founding mothers.
Children’s Stage: Deborah Hopkinson, “Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights.” Covers the life of Frances Perkins, including being the first woman cabinet member, her efforts to bring about new laws to treat people better and make workplaces safer, and her creation of our Social Security program. The book and presentation discuss the influence of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on Frances Perkins and her work.
Children’s Stage: Don Tate, “William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad.” The remarkable, little-known story of William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad from an award-winning author-illustrator.
Children’s Stage: Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, “Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment.” A visit to Washington’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views first lady Michelle Obama’s portrait.
The fun doesn’t end here! Find the Great State Reads from previous years on this page.
With the festival coming up this week, you are sure to have a very literary weekend. Who will be sharing your reading journey with you? Tell us your family’s favorite book discovery of the week!
It was a pleasure to work with the Centers for the Book to create videos about the 2020 selections! Here is one spot where you can view all the videos featuring a diverse group of books. It also contains activities that each state has created for its selection! https://kidlit.tv/GreatReadsFromGreatPlaces
Here is a like to the handout of all of this year’s selections