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2020 National Book Festival Highlights: Mo Willems

Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival! If you love storytelling or are simply curious about the world, you’ve landed in the right place. As a way into this vast — and vastly fascinating — festival celebrating “American Ingenuity,” we offer here a string of highlights that truly illustrate the resilience, intelligence and wit of this year’s authors. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection and special limited-time content on the Virtual Festival Platform.

Mo Willems, he of the wildly popular books for young people like the Pigeon series and Elephant & Piggie Biggie series, thinks the kids are all right.

“I think the kids are fine. I really do,” he said to Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in an exclusive video interview. I think it’s us, the old people, that need some help, that need to stop and look and listen to these ambassadors, these ambassadors of exploration, of creativity, of asking questions.”

The three-time Caldecott Medal winner spoke about his creative process and the “idea garden” of random doodles that inspires his stories and art. He launched his recent books, “An Elephant & Piggie Biggie! Volume 3” (Hyperion) and “Unlimited Squirrels: I Want to Sleep Under the Stars” (Hyperion), at the 2020 National Book Festival.

Willems also believes there is no shame in failure: “I think you have to be more afraid of not having tried something than you are afraid of failing. Failing is only an example that you tried something. It’s an amazing thing to have done because people who don’t try don’t fail.”

You can hear more wise words from Willems and from many other writers for young people, such as Chelsea Clinton, Barb Rosenstock, Angela Dominguez, Don Tate and Kelly Yang, on the Virtual Festival Platform (Go to “Stages” tab and select “Children’s.” Click on “Sessions” and select an author).

More than 120 authors in all genres and for all ages recorded videos for the National Book Festival. Selected authors also participated in a Q&A session. You’ll find them all on the virtual platform until the end of this month. Afterward, you can access all these sessions at www.loc.gov/bookfest. You can explore these videos anytime from any device with internet access.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrated its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute festival news, highlights, and other important information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You can support the festival, too, by making a gift now.