One Book, Two Book: Fourth annual children’s lit festival heads to downtown Iowa City

Illustration by Greta Songe
Illustration by Greta Songe

One Book, Two Book festival

Sheraton Hotel, Macbride Auditorium — March 6-8

A new generation of readers get their due when the UNESCO City of Literature’s fourth annual children’s literature festival, “One Book, Two Book,” comes to the Sheraton Hotel March 6-8. The event is sponsored by the Sheraton, Johnson County Community Foundation, area libraries and the Iowa Youth Writing Program.

The festival kicks off with the “Once Upon a Time” dinner on Friday night, featuring well-known children’s author and illustrator, David LaRochelle, who will give a preview of his keynote speech. The highlight of the night, however, is when selected participants from 21 area schools will read from their works. For many of these students, it will be their first time reading to an audience, much less an audience of over 300 people.

LaRochelle is the author of well-known children’s stories like Moo! and It’s a Tiger!. He worked as an elementary school teacher before making a career out of his writing and illustrating talents. He’s published over 25 books, and has recently begun dabbling in young adult literature.

Saturday’s schedule contains a day of events for both children and adults, including a performance by Girls Rock!, a music education and empowerment group. This is the first time the festival will feature music, with instruments available for purchase from vendors who will be in attendance. Items like toys and puzzles will also be available for purchase.

Rachel Carlson, Director of Operations at Iowa City’s UNESCO chapter, said there will be more sellers present at this event than at any of the previous festivals.

Carlson adds that this year’s children’s book festival is unique because of its adult programming. Adults can sit in on workshops like “Toybox Tools for Reading,” which will feature The Haunted Bookshop’s toy buyer, Marie Raven. She will give information on toys that build reading skills for children before they’ve begun reading.

Adults should also check out “Storytime Skills: How to Read Aloud to Children,” on Saturday at 1 p.m. The workshop is led by Director of Undergraduate Studies for the American Sign Language program at the University of Iowa, AmyRuth McGraw. Carlson said this workshop might be of particular interest to teachers and caregivers, with the lecture counting toward continuing education credit at the university.

Although there is plenty of programming for older generations, the event’s focus is still on children, of course. This year, the festival will offer free children’s workshops on comic book writing and illustration. Children can learn from local experts how to create their own comic book, or participate in an illustration workshop from LaRochelle. There is also a writing workshop for middle school-aged kids.

The festival will culminate on Sunday at 1 p.m. with an awards ceremony and reading at the Macbride Auditorium, recognizing excellent work from two students in each grade level. All events in conjunction with One Book, Two Book are free and open to the public, although Carlson suggests registering for workshops on their website,

Sponsors for this event include The Community Foundation of Johnson County, Terry Lockridge & Dunn/World Trend Financial, ACT and Hills Bank and Trust.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 172

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