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Right now, here and there all over the world, people are sitting down with a good book and enjoying a good read.

Sprawled on the lawn, curled up on the sofa, sitting on the steps in the piazza — they’re communing with a great author, or a funny author, or an author who’s telling them how to cook or knit or fix something in their life that’s broken. Some of them are reading poetry.  Some of them are reading it on e-book devices.

There are millions of them, all scattered around.  One book to a person, one person to a book.

Saturday, more than 120,000 of them are projected to be on one lawn, in one city, at one time: on the National Mall at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.  It’ll happen from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., rain or shine — free of charge.


More than 70 major authors will speak about their writing before happy crowds in pavilions dedicated to Fiction & Fantasy, History & Biography, Mysteries & Thrillers, Children, Teens & Children, and Poetry & Prose. The authors will also sign books for their fans.

Families can enjoy the literacy-promotion activities of the state and territorial Centers for the Book in the Pavilion of the States; kids can enjoy activities and presentations planned just for them in the “Let’s Read America” pavilions. The “Digital Bookmobile” will be there.  The Library of Congress will showcase its Library of Congress Experience and social-networking activities, including this blog , its Flickr page and its Facebook page. The whole thing will be on Twitter (@librarycongress, hashtag #nbf).  Also, our website for the book festival is a great place to plan for this feast, complete with fresh podcasts from more than a dozen of this year’s authors. There’s a Young Readers’ Toolkit there, too. And the day of the book festival, webcasts of many of the author presentations will be available on the festival website.

Here’s a tip — this “Lollapalooza” of the book world is going to open with a flourish. A team of young people’s authors, fronted by the irrepressible National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka, will launch the new website that promotes reading and literacy for all ages as the festival opens at 10 a.m., in the Children’s pavilion.  You won’t have to be a kid to get a kick out of this one: The new site will premiere a serial story, with the first (completely zany) chapter to be read by Scieszka from the stage.  It’s titled “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure,” and to find out what happens next — this story will unfold every two weeks for a year — you’ll have to go to

But to find out what the coolest event is in Washington D.C. is on September 26, 2009, you’ll have to go to the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets.  Wear comfortable shoes — and prepare to be swept away!

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