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Celebrating Books at the National Book Festival

By Isabel Rose Dorval | October 4 , 2003
Isabel Dorval talks to Dr. James H. Billington, the 13th Librarian of Congress.
Isabel Dorval talks to Dr. James H. Billington, the 13th Librarian of Congress.

The third annual National Book Festival was held today on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was hosted by the Library of Congress and First Lady Laura Bush.

More than 85 award-winning authors, storytellers, and illustrators talked about their work and autographed their books for fans. Tens of thousands of people, young and old, visited and were inspired by the many authors and the excitement on the Mall. Among those authors best known by children were Avi (Crispin), Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee), Julie Andrews (Mandy), Stan and Jan Berenstain (The Berenstain Bears), and Paige Davis (Paige by Paige) from Trading Spaces.

"Reading is a brightly shining window on a rainy day," Dr. James H. Billington, the 13th Librarian of Congress said, to sum up the Festival. He was quoting the famous U.S. diplomat George Kennan who has had a love of books for almost a century. (Kennan is turning 100 years old this year.)

In a news conference with student reporters, Librarian Billington and actress and author Julie Andrews agreed that "nothing can take the place of the imagination that comes from reading." Billington and Andrews were commenting on the impact of the Internet and video games on the reading habits of children today.

Studies show that children do better in school if they grow up in a home surrounded by books, said Dr. Billington. He should certainly know about books: The Library of Congress, built in 1800 by an Act of Congress, is the largest library in the world. The Library has 532 miles of shelves, which are filled with over 19 million books, 2.6 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, and 56 million manuscripts. The items in the Library are not just from the United States, but from all over the world.

The National Book Festival truly celebrates reading in what Julie Andrews calls the "wisdom, words, and wonder" of books.

About the Author

Isabel Dorval is 10 and lives in New York. One day she hopes to become a lawyer, writer, or photographer. In the meantime, she loves meeting new people. She is excited to be a student reporter. "This assignment is perfect because I get to interview my favorite person, write, and talk about books!" Isabel said.

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