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Program National Book Festival


First Lady, Laura Bush, partnered with the Library of Congress to create the first National Book Festival as part of her education initiative and inspired by her founding of the Texas Book Festival. The event was hosted on the East Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and in the Library’s Jefferson Building.

Attendance: 25,000 – 30,000

Featured authors, illustrators, poets, and storytellers included:

  • Historian Michael Beschloss
  • Children’s author Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Mystery author Sue Grafton
  • Novelist Thomas Mallon

Occurring just three days prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many did not believe the event would return for another year.

“In the face of horrendous events… [I] know that whatever we contribute to the world in beauty and wisdom and goodness is not futile. All the joy you provided for thousands of people that Saturday remains and will be remembered.”

– Katherine Paterson in a letter to Director of Center for the Book on Sep. 24, 2001

“After the terrible events of last week, the National Book Festival will remain forever in my memory as the last great event of hope and innocence in our country.”

– Jan Greenberg in a letter to Director of Center for the Book on Sep. 19, 2001