Greetings from Martha at the National Book Festival

You would be forgiven if you wandered into the National Book Festival and wondered, "Where are the books?" Leo asked me that the first time we went, and I think it's a valid question. There are authors, tents, people (more than 120,000 this year), and lines (sometimes very long lines, like the line through security to get into the children's tent while Laura and Jenna Bush were reading), but not very many actual books. I think there may have been some for sale near the Capitol (where the book signings happen), but other than that: no.

The kids had a great time at the Let's Read America Pavilion, though. They got their picture taken with Martha of Martha Speaks! (the PBS KIDS program) and listened to author and illustrator Susan Meddaugh talk about the real Martha, and about how she got the idea for the Martha books (from her son, who was in second grade at the time). Meddaugh also read (an actual book!) Perfectly Martha. We love the Martha books (Martha Blah Blah is my favorite), so Meddaugh's session was a highlight of the festival. As was the performance from the cast of the all-new Electric Company. Hey you guuuys!

I admit: I think it's a little problematic that PBS KIDS promotes its television programs so heavily at an event that's all about reading. Granted, PBS KIDS Raising Readers does a lot to help children improve the skills they need to learn to read. And other PBS KIDS programs are based on children's books, too. Maybe it's just me. My kids (who don't even watch TV) didn't seem to mind: they were more than happy to meet Clifford the Big Red Dog (online at Scholastic and PBS KIDS). The line for him was pretty long, too!