Internationally acclaimed authors and illustrators of children’s books will take over downtown Iowa City this weekend for the UNESCO City of Literature’s 3rd annual One Book Two Book festival.
The festival kicks off Friday at the Sheraton hotel for the “Once Upon a Time” banquet featuring a keynote presentation from New York Times bestselling picture book author and illustrator Loren Long. Long is perhaps most widely known for being the man behind the wildly popular Otis series, and for illustrating President Obama’s children’s book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.
Students representing twenty one area elementary schools will also be reading their work at the banquet, reinforcing One Book Two Book’s goal of getting kids involved with reading and creating literature at a young age. UNESCO City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon says his organization is always looking for ways to improve Iowa City’s already spectacular literary culture by filling in what he calls “programming gaps.”
“Those gaps are few and rather narrow, but one area we identified that could see more programming is children’s literature and student writing,” Kenyon wrote in an email to Little Village. “It is vitally important that young people in the City of Literature develop a love of reading and writing, and the programming at the One Book Two Book festival is specifically designed to encourage that.”
In addition to Long, authors of various styles of children’s lit are scheduled to read throughout the day on Saturday at the Iowa City Public Library. Brian Farrey, Laura Purdie Salas, Sarah Aronson, and Iowa City’s own Katherine House are among those slated to make appearances.
“The nice thing about this year’s lineup is that with a handful of authors we have a real diversity, from House’s non-fiction work to the young adult novels of Sarah Aronson to the whimsical poetry of Laura Purdie Salas and the madcap work of Brian Farrey,” Kenyon said. “There truly is something for everyone.”
Clifford, Curious George, and Skippyjon Jones are also scheduled to make appearances during the “Book Character Meet and Greet” on the Sheraton Stage at noon and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Older kids are encouraged to check out the “Junior High Writing Jam” at Fair Grounds Coffee, and “Comic Book Confidential” at the Sheraton. At each event, Kenyon says students will have the chance to talk to professionals about their own work while learning about what it takes to further develop their writing skills.
Sunday’s “Write Out Loud” event at the Englert Theatre will serve as the closing event for the festival, and will honor 85 area students from grades 1-8 for their excellence in categories like “The Write Stuff,” and “From the Heart.” Check out the full schedule for the One Book Two Book Festival here.