By the next year, I was dating my now husband and I dragged him to a mandatory stop by the festival before heading to my office's picnic, which was sadly scheduled for the same day. I missed a few years due to my wedding and the fact I was about to give birth. But before I knew it, I had toddlers to take to the festival. Meg and Clare loved going to the National Mall each fall to take pictures with Curious George, Cat in the Hat and the cast of Super Why. PBS Kids is a major presence at the Book Festival and for several years we focused mostly on PBS Kids because that was what the kids could appreciate.
This year marked a major change for the Book Festival. Due to a change in practice by the National Parks Service (because the NPS is concerned about the grass on the Mall), the Book Festival is no longer being held on the National Mall. Ummm, seriously? NPS, you are sort of missing the point of the Mall. It is a gathering place. It is our nation's village green. Who cares about the grass? If your policies cause the Library of Congress to move the National Book Festival from the Mall to a convention center, then your policies are wrong. Period. Full stop.
I'm sorry Library of Congress. I know you tried. I know the NPS put you in a terrible spot. But the convention center just isn't as cool as the Mall. The convention center is a convention center that could be located in any city in the country. No longer do you browse books and listen to authors speak in the shadow of the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. Now, it is just an exhibit hall and ballrooms. Gone are the open tents from which you could hear authors speak even while your kids were eating lunch or running around the grass outside the tents. Now, when the doors close on those ballrooms, you can't hear a thing outside. Someone call Laura Bush (founder of the Book Festival) to put the NPS in its place.
The change in location was particularly disappointing this year because my mom, who has been wanting to attend the Book Festival for years, was finally at the festival. I so wish she could have experienced the National Book Festival in all its Mall glory. But alas, that was not the case and we had to move on. So, we began the festival as we always do, with the PBS Kids characters. Great news! After years of being terrified of the Cat in the Hat costume, Clare finally embraced Cat...literally.
The Book Festival brought us so much excitement today. At dinner, we asked Clare what her favorite part of the day was. She answered, "Reading in line with Nana." Clare is quite good at reminding me that while all our adventures are great fun, it is the quiet times spent together in the midst of the adventure that are the most meaningful.