BY ASHLEY BRYAN
I first discovered the Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authorsin the fall of 2012 when I fastened my then eight-month-old daughter into her Ergo carrier and set off to explore downtown Winston-Salem. We embarked on this adventure as book lovers simply looking for something to fill our afternoon. What we found was a community event that welcomed us, embraced us and instantly became a yearly part of our lives.
On September 7th, Bookmarks will celebrate its 15thAnnual Festival of Books & Authors and will feature an area dedicated specifically to our young community readers. Located in the Foundations Early Learning Center parking lot (300 Poplar Street NW) and adjacent to the Bookmarks Bookstore, this space-themed area will include activities sponsored by Kaplan Early Learning Center and The Sunshine House, with a mobile planetarium, space exploration crafts, exhibitors and an author stage.
As the mother of four children (ages 6-15), finding a community event that appeals to all of us is sometimes difficult to come by; for such an event to be free is downright spectacular. But discovering an experience that will encourage and ignite a love of reading across all generations is nothing short of priceless. And that is exactly what Bookmarks strives to do – ignite a love of reading by connecting readers and authors. This year’s festival schedule has succeeded in a lineup that is sure to accomplish that mission.
Free programming for kids ages 8-12will include the following author panels: “Telling Stories” with Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome (Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams and Before She Was Harriet); “Seeing Ghosts: Middle Grade Ghostly Adventures” with Katherine Arden (Dead Voices) and Victoria Schwab (Tunnel of Bones); a special presentation by Chris Grabenstein about the fourth installment of the Mr. Lemoncello series Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game. “Middle School Stinks” with Ali Benjamin (The Next Great Paulie Fink), Stacy McAnulty (The World Ends in April), and Renée Watson (Some Places More Than Others); “Seeing Stories: Graphic Novel Talk” with Cece Bell (El Deafo) and Gale Galligan (Boy-Crazy Stacey); and “My Complicated Summer: Finding Family in the Big City” with Renée Watson and Ibi Zoboi (My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich).
For younger readers, look for a Where’s Waldo Scavenger Hunt; Curious George Storytime; Elephant & Piggie Storytime; Space Storytime with Stacy McAnulty; Tow Truck Storytime with Anne Marie Pace (creator of the Vampirina series); and Storytime with James Ransome and Lesa Cline Ransome.
For our young adult readers, we have a star-studded afternoon of author panels that include: “Monsters, Magic, and Warrior Women” with Cinda Williams Chima (Deathcaster), Dhonielle Clayton (The Everlasting Rose), Victoria Schwab (The Monsters of Verity duology), and Megan Shepherd (Midnight Beauties); a Young Adult Writing Workshop with Amber Smith (Something Like Gravity); “Escape From Normal” with Katherine Arden (Dead Voices) and Becky Chambers (To be Taught, if Fortunate); and “Do You See Me? The Importance of Inclusive Characters” with Becky Chambers and Amber Smith.
In addition to author panels, space activities, storytimes and writing workshops, be prepared for performances by The Little Theater of Winston Salem, The Piedmont Opera Youth Chorus, Bookmarks’ very own BDC (Bookmarks Dance Crew) and many more.
So, whether you’re an avid reader, an as-yet undiscovered reader or just looking for an afternoon that the whole family can enjoy, Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors is the place to be for an out-of-this-world experience.