Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own. (Conversely, if you have teens who can't bear to be parted from their phones for five seconds, drag them along too to remind them of those strange pre-historical days of yore when humans still read things on the printed page as well as from a glowing screen.)
The festival, now in its thirteenth year, is being hosted by the Madison Public Library for the second time. The four-day-long festival running Oct. 16-19 is crammed full of events, and many of them are directed at young people, including a full Children's Series sponsored by the American Girl Fund for Children.
Thursday is Elementary School Day, with programming specifically intended for the youngest readers. Kids can watch a live musical performance featuring character Gustafer Yellowgold (and parents, before you start to dread the idea of 45 minutes of kiddie-bop, keep in mind that this act has opened for Wilco and the Polyphonic Sound Spree).
They can listen as author Susan Apps-Bodilly brings the history of attending a one-room schoolhouse to life, as told in her book on the subject. They'll even get the chance to learn how to make their own animation based on their favorite stories, as author Julie Mata explains the techniques employed by the protagonist of her own Kate Walden Directs book series.
Kid-oriented events later in the festival include readings from children's books, with one featuring A Christmas Wish For Corduroy, just in case you're already getting anxious to swap the pumpkin spice for gingerbread.
For parents with older readers (or children they'd like to help become readers), there are lots of options to match kids up to their favorite genres. If your child devoured The Hunger Games or Divergent, then he or she might be interested in Michael Perry's presentation from his novel The Scavengers. For the kids who loved reading Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle or who are into historical fiction, Victoria McKernan reading from Son of Fortune, might be worth checking into.
And for teens looking for ways to grapple with difficult social issues, there are many books being presented that can provide a solid opening line. From the country's troubled past -- and present -- issues with racism and the progress eked out by the Civil Rights Movement ("Armed with Nonviolence: Stories from the Fight for Human Rights" by Ann Bausum) to the struggles of gender identity faced by intersex youth (a Double Exposure reading by Bridget Birdsall) to the environmental challenges faced by modern civilization (an Eyes Wide Open reading by Paul Fleischman), there's something out there for every big-thinking teenager.
There's also High School Friday, with presenters First Wave and Jordan Ellenberg. Students will have the opportunity to put their language arts skills into practice, as well as to learn more about the wide variety of career options in which they can put those skills to work. (Yes, Virginia, there is a reason your English teacher made you read and write all that poetry after all.)
But of course, my favorite part of the Wisconsin Book Festival is open to high schoolers, elementary readers, and even my pre-reading, board-book-chewing tots: the Madison Public Library book sale. Entry is free, so get over to the Central Library and stock up on all the reading material you want -- er, I mean, that your kids want.