I am a teacher by trade, but I am a book lover at heart. As a reading specialist, one might think I taught my children to read at an early age. But, I did not. I never even considered it. My children are bright and will learn phonics and comprehension strategies at school. At home, they have learned to love words and stories and illustrations almost as much as I do. Passing my passion for reading on to my children is one of my highest aspirations as a parent.
We visit the library regularly. We have piles of books in every room in our house. We read together everyday. It is as routine as brushing our teeth and as cherished as a good night kiss.
I knew we would all enjoy attending the Princeton Children’s Book Festival last Saturday. We were looking forward to it for weeks.
It did not disappoint. We arrived in Princeton early in the afternoon on September 21. The kids practically ran down the street to get to the festival. I thought we should go to one of the author’s tents first, but Leah insisted upon having her face painted. It turned out to be a great decision.
We entered the Author’s Tents right after the face painting. As we walked up to each table, there was always an awkward pause as we looked at the books and made eye contact with the writer or illustrator. The face paint was a fabulous ice-breaker. At least 20 or 30 authors must have started the conversation with, “Wow! Look at your pink face!” We were then able to chat a little with each author.
While we wandered up and down the aisles of the Author’s Tents, Luke and Leah were focused on shopping because I told them I would buy them each one book. I was more interested in meeting the writers and illustrators.
The kids did not seem particularly impressed after talking to our first famous author. The author was someone whose books we had enjoyed, but the kids did not seem as starstruck as I was. I was surprised and told the kids that we had just met one of the rock stars of children’s literature. Luke looked back at the balding man, who was wearing a wrinkled shirt and tie, and said, “He does not look like a rock star, Mom.”
So, the kids were not as captivated by meeting famous authors as I was, but this was not entirely bad. They were able to converse easily with published authors and put a name to the face on the front of some of their favorite books. We chatted with Paul O. Zelinsky, a Caldecott winner. One of his books, The Wheels on the Bus has been favorite of both kids for years. We also posed for pictures with Herman Parrish, the author of the Amelia Bedelia series, and Alyssa Satin Capucilli, the author of the Biscuit books. We met many illustrators who drew little figures on bookmarks for us and talked to lots of authors who knew the way to a reader’s heart is candy. The kids probably consumed as much candy at the festival as they do on Halloween!
We listened to authors read their works and played with an “instrument petting zoo” run by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. We capped off our day with a visit to our favorite ice cream shop, Halo Pub.
The Princeton’s Children’s Book Festival was a great time and an experience we are sure to repeat.
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