The annual Library of Congress National Book Festival drew an estimated 200,000 people to the Walter E. Convention Center in D.C. Saturday, with more than 120 featured authors, concession stands, panel discussions, craft tables and famous book signings from celebrated writers such as basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and terror master Stephen King.
Now in its 16th year, the free event peaked in attendance from people all across the country looking to catch a glimpse of their favorite author and or spend time playing word games with his or her children.
Ayo Doumatey, a three year resident of Charles County, Maryland, celebrated the tradition and festivities of the book festival.
“This is my third year attending this event,” she said. “My daughter who is in seventh grade, is an avid reader and I love being able to take pictures of her beside some of her favorite authors.”
Carla Hayden, the newly-elected first black female librarian, officially began the festivities, introducing Stephen King on the festival’s first ever Main Stage.
“Stephen has continuously brought us spellbinding fiction that makes us read, keeps us reading, and fixes us to the edges of our seats,” Hayden said. “What you might not know is how devoted Stephen has been all these years to promoting the indispensable tools of reading and literacy. We are proud to single him out now. An individual who not only gives back to his readers, but ensures that the number of readers grows.”
Also in attendance were “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes, promoting her new book, “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person,” and graphic novelist and comic writer Gene Luen Yang, who was also named the fifth national ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
Aubri Williams, longtime resident of Arlington, Virginia, and first-time attendee, said he was motivated to attend the fair by a review of Abdul-Jabbar’s “Writings on the Wall.”
“There was a reference to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s discussion of race and racism, which resonates with a lot of the thinking of myself and others and that prompted me to come to the book fair and attend his session,” Williams said of the review.
Created in 2001 by former first lady Laura Bush and then-Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, the National Book Festival aim to serve as a gateway between best-selling authors and thousands of book fans.