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2002 National Book Festival Draws Thousands to Capitol Grounds

Russian First Lady Liudmila Putina was Guest of Honor
Approximately 45,000 people from all over the area turned out to celebrate America's love of reading at the second National Book Festival held on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on October 12. Seventy authors and storytellers were joined by basketball stars, children's storybook characters, reading advocates, musicians, librarians and book lovers of all ages at this free event organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress. Host First Lady Laura Bush and guest of honor First Lady of the Russian Federation Liudmila A. Putina walked the grounds for an hour and visited three pavilions: "Children & Young Adults," "Mysteries & Thrillers" and "Storytelling." The day truly offered something for everyone with highlights including:

Eric Carle, author of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," addressed hundreds in the "Children & Young Adults" pavilion about the importance of finding time to read to children.

Poet Laureate Billy Collins read a variety of funny and sad poems to a standing-room-only crowd.

Children were entertained by Clifford the Big Red Dog and his creator Norman Bridwell as well as by other PBS and storybook characters.

NBA and WNBA players Jerry Stackhouse, Bob Lanier, Tiny Archibald, Tamika Williams, Stacey Dales-Schuman and Swin Cash read from "Strong to the Hoop" by John Coy.

"We are delighted that so many readers of all ages came to our festival to celebrate reading and storytelling. The day was filled with a wonderful spirit of fun, creativity and a love of books," said Librarian of Congress James Billington.

Among the popular pavilions this year were: 1. "Storytelling" where The Georgia Sea Island Singers entertained the audience with Gullah song, games and dances and 2. "History & Biography" where hundreds attended to hear authors such as Sharon Robinson (Jackie Robinson's daughter) and Bob Edwards, host of NPR's "Morning Edition" discuss their new books on baseball.

Thousands more turned out to talk with their favorite authors while having their books signed. Among the authors was Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough who signed 700 books in one hour.

The festival was made possible by Charter Sponsors: AT&T, The Washington Post and WorkPlace USA; Patrons: The James Madison Council of the Library of Congress, Open Russia Foundation, PBS and Target, along with other contributors.

For more information about the National Book Festival visit the festival's website.