Decatur Book Festival
Did you know that the Atlanta area is home to the largest independent book festival in the country? In nine years, the AJC Decatur Book Festival has grown into a mammoth showcase for publishers, writers, makers, and artists. With panels, discussions, and demonstrations that will appeal to lovers of every genre of books, this year’s festival (August 29-31) is certain to be a huge success. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is a bronze sponsor of this year’s event and we’ll be co-hosting a tent with the Decatur Makers.
The festival opens on Friday night with keynote speaker Joyce Carol Oates in an interview with her biographer, Greg Johnson. That’s at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Oates is launching her newest collection of short stories, Lovely, Dark, Deep at this year’s festival. She’s one of dozens of writers who will be appearing on panels or interviews over the course of the weekend, including Lev Grossman, John Scalzi, Karin Slaughter, Ted Rall, and Pat Conroy, all of whom are pretty well known for writing books aimed at grown-ups.
Meanwhile, as Joyce Carol Oates will be delivering a keynote address, John Scieszka will be delivering a “Kidnote address.” He’s launching a new chapter book for middle-grade readers called Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor thisweekend. The organizers have really come up with a great slate of programming for children and teens at this event.
There will be children’s parades both Saturday and Sunday, and stages with both performances and readings. For example, on Saturday afternoon, Tom Angleberger will be hosting a farewell to his popular and silly “Origami Yoda” stories – the final book of the series was published last month – and on Sunday at noon, the Center for Puppetry Arts and Serenbe Playhouse will be teaming up to present a 40-minute performance of The Wizard of Oz!
As for us, we will be in the Makers’ Space tent near the Old Courthouse Stage, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the MARTA station, from 10-2 on Saturday and 12-2 on Sunday. Our Imaginators will be on hand to engage you and have lots of fun. At the top of each hour, learn about teamwork and the importance of friendship as kids help our team act out a Bob the Builder adventure, “Travis and Scoop’s Big Race.” Then, on the half-hour, the indefatigable Professor Labcoat will demonstrate the teamwork between composite materials in a fun look at the science of paper and wood. Trees use the sun’s energy to turn CO2 into sugar, then make chains out of the sugar to use as raw material for building. If you’ve never seen Professor Labcoat make wild scientific connections between concepts you didn’t think were related, you are in for a treat. Be sure to stop and say hello! We’ll be giving away posters and you can enter to win tickets to visit us at the Museum!
After we finish our time in the space, the Decatur Makers and the Big Nerd Ranch will take over for some really neat demonstrations at 2 pm each day. On Saturday, they will be giving presentations on homebrewing, beekeeping, and the making of an iOS app, and on Sunday, you can learn about woodworking, quilting, and how to start your own whiskey distillery.
We are really looking forward to participating in this festival! Labor Day in Atlanta is always exciting, what with Dragon Con and football and NASCAR and everything, but we love books and we love anything that gets children excited about reading and creating. The packed lineup sounds terrific for anybody who enjoys reading, but the commitment from the festival toward children is really amazing and we can’t wait to be a part of it. There will be books for sale all over the festival, and we’d be happy to point you toward our friends at the great Decatur bookstore Little Shop of Stories as well. You’re certain to leave the festival with some great stories and some lovely things to read!
Photo Cred: Books, Babies, and Bows