Calling all bookworms, casual readers and those looking to get more into reading: The 19th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival returns on Saturday, Aug. 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the free and open-to-the-public event will feature bestselling authors, novelists, historians, poets, children’s writers and more, including presentations by acclaimed chef José Andrés and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The National Book Festival will host more than 140 authors, illustrators and poets on stages to present their work. Guests can hear talks on children’s books, fiction, historical writing, biographies, poetry and science. There will be thematic programs and panel discussions, as well.
Other activities include book signings; lessons on what it takes to become a professional librarian; a sneak preview of the film Free for All: Inside the Public Library; a panel on how libraries are adapting storytime for different generations; copyright trivia; and much more.
For the kids, The Washington Post will host animated readings by local children’s book authors every hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and The Posts’s mascot, Ned the Newshound, will be there to take photos with festival guests. And for parents, there’s even a panel titled, “How to Raise a Reader,” being held from 5 to 6 p.m.
Christine Carroll, a scientist (neurophsycology) turned chef (French Culinary Institute grad) turned James Beard-nominated cookbook author (Come In, We’re Closed) turned executive director and founder of a nonprofit sending chefs on volunteer service trips (CulinaryCorps) is also a mom of two in Old Town Alexandria who runs an Instagram account curating the top books about food for kids.
Food-themed books, writes Carroll, are “a bridge connecting young readers with other cultures, unfamiliar traditions and new ways of life. It’s amazing to see how food-centric books trigger understanding of how we are all deeply connected. These types of books make incredible conversation starters, especially at the dinner table.”
Working on her own middle-grade fiction book, as she says, “where STEM meets sous vide,” she is deep in the culinary-kid book world. Here are her suggestions:
Chapter Book The Winner Is … By: Charise Mericle Harper
The finale in the Next Best Junior Chef series is the perfect beach read for your budding Gordon Ramsay. // Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $8
Board Book Cook In A Book: Tacos!
By: Lotta Nieminen
An interactive series of books to get your little chefs “cooking” while you read aloud about how to make tacos, pancakes, pizza and cookies. // Phaidon, $17
Picture Book When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree By: Jamie L.B. Deenihan
A clever, intergenerational story about turning what you think is sour, into something very sweet. // Sterling Children’s Books, $17
Middle Grade Book A Woman’s Place: The Inventors, Rumrunners, Lawbreakers, Scientists, and Single Moms Who Changed the World with Food
By: Deepi Ahluwalia
A curated group of trailblazing women who changed the world from their kitchens. Innovators, instigators and inventors, A Woman’s Place features stalwarts like Julia Child and Leah Chase, but also unsung heroes, like Georgia Gilmore whose food helped finance the Montgomery Bus Boycott. // Little, Brown and Company, $25
Cookbook United Tastes of America: An Atlas of Food Facts & Recipes from Every State!
By: Gabrielle Langholtz
Some food for thought for that epic summer road trip. // Phaidon, $30
This post was originally published in our August 2019 issue. To get even more food stories to your inbox, subscribe to our weekly Food newsletter.
Barnes & Noble
There are plenty of Barnes & Noble locations in NoVA and most offer regular story time in their children’s section, including Tuesdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m., followed by a simple craft activity. The bookseller also recently introduced a Sunday story time called Baby & Me for 0 to 24-month-old tots. Bonus: most B&Ns have a Starbucks on-site for sleep-deprived parents. // multiple locations; free
Hooray for Books
This sweet little bookstore just for kids in Old Town, Alexandria hosts a 30-minute story time every Friday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Read some books and then spend some time browsing the shelves before heading home for naptime. // 1555 King St., Alexandria; free
Stories from Strawberry Park at Mosaic District
On the first and third Tuesday of the month, parents and kids gather at Mosaic’s Strawberry Park for interactive story time. Still to come in August, Sail the Summer Away (Aug. 6), featuring both stories and songs, and Hot Little Dragons (Aug. 20), billed as tales that “even Daenerys would laugh at.” // 2905 District Ave., Fairfax; 10 and under; free
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress includes more than 32 million catalogued books. Your kids won’t really care about that, but it is pretty cool knowing you’re taking them to story time in the nation’s unofficial library. The Young Readers Center has a story time for infants and toddlers every Friday morning (except holidays) at 10:30 a.m. The event is capped at 50 and is first-come, first-serve so, get there early to make sure you get a spot at this free event. // First St. SE, Washington, DC between Independence Ave. and E. Capitol St., Jefferson Building, Room G29; free
Your Local Library
Of course, your local library is always a reliable spot to introduce your little one to the joy of reading. Summer is a particularly busy time for fun events. Check your local library’s online calendar for recurring and special events that babies, toddlers and kids are sure to love.
Fairfax County Public Library is trying something new this year — a county-wide, adult summer reading challenge.
In years past, various branches held individual challenges for adults, but after demand rose, the county designed a unified program, according to Mary Mulrenan, a spokesperson for FCPL.
“A small committee worked together to create a system-wide program that would provide a way for all library customers to participate,” she said.
So far, participants have turned in 1,534 logs to the library — significantly more than they originally anticipated, according to Mulrenan. “We are surveying customers and to date, 73 people have completed our survey. Out of this number, 92% have rated it excellent or very good and 95% will participate again next summer.”
Anyone interested in participating can pick up reading logs at any local FCPL branch or print them out on the website. The nearest location is the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike).
To complete the challenge, participants must complete two reading logs, each consisting of a challenge to read or listen to four books and complete one other task, like trying out the library’s research database or following FCPL’s social media accounts.
Participants who return one log will be given goodies such as free snacks, discounts, fine forgiveness at the library or free entry to a Fairfax County recreation center.
Upon completion of a second log, participants will receive a drawstring bag and be entered into a drawing at the end of the summer for a canvas bag filled with a Barnes and Noble gift card, a journal and a portable beach blanket. Individual branches may offer additional prizes, according to the county library website.
Anyone interested in participating can still turn in reading logs until Aug. 31.
The library plans to offer more incentives next summer, due to this year’s high demand.
“It’s wonderful that we have exceeded that number and we still have time (one month) to gain more finishers. We also hope to encourage more businesses to sponsor coupons,” Mulrenan said.
Northern Virginia is home to a number of high-profile and bestselling authors and, thanks to the region’s thriving independent bookstore scene, there’s no shortage of places to find talented Virginia writers likeRussell Baker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from Loudoun County, and New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci. On Aug. 9, embrace your inner bookworm by heading over to a local bookshop and purchasing a few summer reads in honor of National Book Lovers Day.
With the distraction of outdoor activities, video games, time with friends and mobile devices, reading and other academic activities aren’t often at the top of your child’s summer agenda. Which, left unchecked, may lead to summer learning loss, often referred to as the summer slide.
Research shows that on average, students’ achievement scores can decline over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning.
What happens to a child’s brain if it is not academically active during the summer? With children, it’s all about growth all year-round. If a child isn’t academically engaged over the summer then the content gained throughout the school year can be lost. Keep in mind that summer learning loss can be cumulative. Academic content lost over successive summers begins to add up and can set your child back in terms of long-term learning.
If there is one academic activity kids should try to focus on over the summer, what is it? While other subjects are important, reading is the gateway to learning. After the third grade there is a shift from learning to read, to reading to learn. If your child isn’t engaged in reading, then they aren’t building skills that will help them understand other subjects and access related content that is only unlocked by reading.
How often should a child read over the summer? It’s all about quality of the book, the level of interest your child has in what they are reading and how closely the reading material matches their academic literacy. The book should be at a reading level similar to where the child was at the end of their most recent grade to make sure critical literacy skills are reinforced.
How can you promote reading when kids are not in school? Children are more engaged in books that they pick themselves. When in the library, allow your child to pick out books on their own. Parents can help select reading material if your child tends to choose books beyond their reading level or if you plan to actively engage with your child in reading that book. When making choices with your child, try to keep in mind the literacy skills your child needs to practice over the summer.
What should parents do if a child has difficulty with reading? One thing that I often recommend is audio books. From the perspective of literary skills and comprehension, there isn’t much of a difference between listening to a book and reading a book. For example, in terms of reading comprehension, making predictions, inferences within the text, understanding character development and story sequences are all things kids do with audio books as they do with a physical book. While audio books shouldn’t completely replace print books, they can serve as a good alternative and create a great way for families to enjoy books together.
Kristina Hardy, Ph.D., is a pediatric neuropsychologist within the division of neuropsychology at Children’s National Health System and is an associate professor in the Departments of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Hardy has expertise in developmental and acquired difficulties with attention, learning and executive functioning.
According to the Director of the Department of Libraries in Arlington, Diane Kresh, the creation (the third of its kind by the Arlington Public Library) is all about adapting to change and “meeting people where they are.”
“We assume that for all kinds of reasons, not everyone goes to a traditional brick-and-mortar library,” Kresh says. “There are people stopping at the pop-up that don’t even know that less than a mile away is a central library.”
The former retail space is now open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (except on Fridays) until Aug. 2, and has a handful of amenities for visitors to enjoy.
Visitors can sign up for a library card, browse a stock of popular-interest and children’s books or just kick back and use one of the space’s charging stations for digital devices.
According to Kresh, the pop-up library is showcasing how libraries on a larger scale are allowing public access to services that go beyond just lending out books.
“We are very conscious about how people are using the public space of the library,” Kresh says. Many come to the permanent locations in the area for a quiet place to study and a place to charge a laptop, while others stop by and conduct most of their interactions through the library app once they leave.
That’s why locations like this one, even if temporary, make people aware of the ways the library can become a frequent and reliable resource, no matter what they’re looking for.
“Some local libraries are always really busy because they’re right in the middle of the community [literally], but this way we have another location that can see the library and add it to their daily life tasks,” Kresh says. “You can stop by and get out of the heat, find a comfy chair and read a book.”
And the kids can enjoy it, too.
Kresh is hoping that local children find the library to be a fun, educational and safe space. That’s why local children can also sign up for the library’s 2019 Summer Reading Challenge, when they visit. Children are eligible to earn prizes after 25 days of reading, including tickets to a Washington Nationals game.
“We push reading because it’s something that you can enjoy lifelong,” Kresh says. “It’s fundamental. Even if you’re older, you can still enjoy it.”
And ever since the opening, Kresh has noticed its impact when spending just a few minutes in the space.
“When I was visiting just the other day, there were two young women with their babies there, and they were having a great moment,” Kresh says.
Aside from browsing the collection of books or charging up a cell phone, visitors can also experience Alterspace, a collaborative project with Harvard University’s metaLAB that offers an immersive nook where users can control light, color, sound and space to create their ideal environment for reading. It’s the project’s first location outside of Massachusetts.
As for the library continuing the pop-up beyond early August, Kresh is unsure if it’s term will be extended. But she does know one thing about the Arlington Public Library and its community initiatives: “We are always there and we’re here for everybody,” Kresh says. // Ballston Quarter: 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; free
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What’s better than relaxing with a good book in bed? Reading in bed at a luxury hotel.
The Morrison House in Old Town recently launched a new program, Bedside Reading, which offers guests great books to delve into during their stay.
Didn’t have time to finish it? You can take it home.
The program (which is nationwide with other participating luxe hotels) offers a rotating selection of books, but the first trio includes Arlington-based author Helaine Mario and her latest thriller Dark Rhapsody.
The second in the local author’s Maggie O’Shea mystery series follows four seemingly disparate stories that all intertwine throughout the novel. A luxe Old Town hotel and some great reading material on the bedside? Sounds like the perfect staycation to us. // Morrison House: 116 S. Alfred St., Alexandria; rates from $239
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In order for that lentil salad to be lively when the farmers market opens, Rosalie Essimi starts cooking the night before, and doesn’t leave the commercial kitchen space at Haymarket’s incubator Frontier Kitchen until 3 a.m. She sleeps for three hours before driving to set up her stand. This is after she puts in a full day as a teacher in Fairfax County.
Essimi started Boso Kitchen not just to show off her skills mixing turmeric and chili together for a savory-spicy blend on almonds and cashews, or layering flavors in her black-eyed pea and kale soup, but to give her money away. Growing up in Cameroon without access to books—“and I loved reading,” she says—she wants to make sure children everywhere can develop their own admiration of books.
While she’s still figuring out the charitable component, Essimi is working toward a second master’s, this one in library studies. “If I hadn’t had that dream of doing something, I would have never started a business,” says Esimi, who brings her wares to farmers markets in Burke, Merrifield and Falls Church. “That’s what motivates me to get to the kitchen and give up my sleep.”
Bookworms, crack this open: Barnes & Noble opened a new store prototype at Fairfax’s Mosaic District on April 24.
The location is the brand’s smallest store in the country (Barnes & Noble has been testing smaller formats over the past few years), sizing in at only 8,300 square feet.
The store offers an assortment of books (24,000 titles are currently available), a curated selection of educational toys and games, family games, puzzles and gift items.
The design is also a part of Barnes & Noble’s changing aesthetic, featuring oak bookshelves, a mix of wood grain tiles and carpet and lower bookshelves for panoramic views of the stores. Also, the Children’s Section includes a dedicated LEGO activity table.
Like most Barnes & Noble locations, the store in Mosaic District includes a Starbucks, with beverages, baked goods and grab-and-go snacks.
The location will also host events for the community, including book fairs for local schools, book signings with authors and storytelling sessions for kids. For more information, visit barnesandnoble.com. // Barnes & Noble: 2921 District Ave., Suite 180, Fairfax
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