WHAT: Knox County Public Library’s Thirteenth Annual Children’s Festival of Reading

WHERE: World’s Fair Park on the Festival Lawn and Amphitheatre in downtown Knoxville

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, 2017

WHO: Featured artists: Adam Rex, Sarah Weeks, Lita Judge, Charles R. Smith Jr., Gwendolyn Hooks, Richard Sobol and Farmer Jason; Storybook characters: Pete the Cat, Bob the Builder, Corduroy, the Berenstain Bears and more

WHY: Celebrate books and stories and to kick off summer reading programs

HOW: Free and open to the public; Free parking is available at all city lots; More information at www.knoxlib.org/cfor


Pete the Cat, Corduroy, Berenstain Bears, and friends help kick off a summer of reading

Knox County Public Library’s Children’s Festival of Reading is set for May 20


(Knoxville, TN – April 24, 2017) World’s Fair Park will be all abuzz with storybook characters, authors, illustrators, storytellers, musicians, and more from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, 2017 for the 13th annual Children’s Festival of Reading.


Hosted by Knox County Public Library to kick off its summer reading programs, the free event will feature classic storybook characters including Pete the Cat, Corduroy, Pancake Pig, and Berenstain Bears. Keeping with this year’s theme of Building a Better World, East Tennessee PBS is bringing in Bob the Builder, and Downtown Knoxville is partnering with Union Avenue Books by hosting the oft-hidden Waldo.


Adam Rex, author and illustrator of the bestselling Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, will headline the Festival.  His debut novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, was adapted into the DreamWorks film Home in 2014.  Over the years, he has collaborated with well-known authors Neil Gaiman, Amy Timberlake, and Mac Barnett.


Other acclaimed authors and illustrators being featured at the Festival include Julie Danielson, Susie Gardner, Gwendolyn Hooks, Lita Judge, Charles R. Smith, Jr., Richard Sobol, Mary Reaves Uhles, and Sarah Weeks (see bios below). The musical headliner is Farmer Jason, and Dollywood’s Penguin Players will start the day with their song and dance rendition of Pretend by Jennifer Plecas at 10:00 a.m. on the main stage. All authors and illustrators will be available to sign books and meet their fans.


At noon, everyone is invited to join the Parade of Books, which will be led by the Bearden Middle School drum line. The Science Village is returning to the base of the Sunsphere with hands-on experiments by Dr. Hazari. The Muse and the L&N Stem Academy will present scientific curiosities for all ages. Miss Libby’s Arts and Crafts tent will bring out the creative spirit in any child with a wide range of crafts. Other activities include a ride on the Molar Express sponsored by East Tennessee Pediatric Dentistry, a toddler’s play area, One World Circus, music, storyteller’s theatre and lots of food. More than 50 organizations will be on site offering literacy related activities and games. The Children’s Performance Stage at the Amphitheatre will showcase some of our most talented students in the area.  


New this year: Bookitecture! Festival goers are encouraged to try their hand at building skyscrapers or tunnels with hundreds of books.


“The Children’s Festival of Reading is the perfect way to end the school year and kick off the library’s summer programs,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “We are fortunate to be able to bring kids and authors together. This is a great chance to encourage kids and families to read over the summer.”


Summer reading programs help students retain their academic skills over the summer. Research shows that struggling students can lose as much as 1.5 years of academic progress between grades 1 and 6 if they don’t read over the summer. Furthermore, summer reading offers children and youth a chance to explore books that are of personal interest. Studies show that when readers are encouraged to choose their own books, they become stronger and more engaged readers. 


The Children's Festival of Reading is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment of the Arts, Friends of the Knox County Public Library, Humanities Tennessee, Tennessee Arts Commission, BCBST Community Trust, Jane L. Pettway Foundation, East Tennessee Foundation’s Arts Fund, East Tennessee Pediatric Dentistry, ORNL Federal Credit Union, Publix Charities, Pilot Flying J, Tennessee Arts Commission, Union Avenue Bookseller, City of Knoxville, Downtown Knoxville, Knoxville News Sentinel, Comcast, WDVX, B97.5 and WBIR TV 10.


More about the performers at the Children’s Festival of Reading:



Julie Danielson 

Julie Danielson is the children's literature expert and blogger extraordinaire behind the wildly popular blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The blog is full of fascinating interviews with the rock stars of the children's book world. Julie is also an author and freelance writer. Her first book, Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature, cowritten with two other bloggers, was published in 2014. http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/ 


Susie Gardner 

Susie Gardner was named Head Women's Basketball Coach at Mercer University in 2010. With more than 200 Division I wins to her resume, she has coached college basketball for over twenty-five years. Her first children's book, 1,2,3 Team! was published last year, and she is at the festival as a special guest of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. 


Gwendolyn Hooks 

After teaching middle school math for many years, Gwendolyn Hooks decided to follow her passion to write books for children full time. Her titles include the Pet Club series of books for beginning readers as well as nonfiction titles such as Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, winner of the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children. She currently lives in Oklahoma City with her husband. gwendolynhooks.com  


Lita Judge 

Lita Judge lives with her husband Dave, two kitties, and a little green parrot in a red house in the middle of a New Hampshire wood. She always dreamed of being a writer and artist and has been able to turn that dream into a reality. She has written and illustrated over a dozen books, many inspired by the animals she observes in the world around her. Her most recent book, Hoot and Peep, about a young owl finding her voice, will have a sequel next fall.  litajudge.net 


Adam Rex 

Adam Rex began his career in children's books as the illustrator of picture books by authors such as Neil Gaiman, Amy Timberlake, and Mac Barnett. He has since written and illustrated his own picture books, including the bestselling Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. His debut novel, The True Meaning of Smekday, was adapted into the DreamWorks film Home in 2014. His most recent titles include his picture book XO, Ox: A Love Story and The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors written by Drew Daywalt.  adamrex.com 


Charles R. Smith, Jr. 

Charles R. Smith, Jr. is an award-winning author, photographer and poet with over thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem My People, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award for his Muhammad Ali biography, Twelve Rounds to Glory. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he currently lives in Poughkeepsie, NY with his wife Gillian and their three children. His most recent titles, Brick by Brick and 28 Days take unique looks at the importance and influence of African Americans on the history of our country. charlesrsmithjr.com 


Richard Sobol 

Richard Sobol is an award-winning photographer who travels the world for his work, which has appeared in National GeographicTimeRolling Stone and many other magazines. His Traveling Photographer series of books for children includes the titles The Story of SilkThe Life of RiceThe Mysteries of Angkor Wat, and Breakfast in the Rainforest. His most recent book, Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony, provides a glimpse into life in a Ugandan village where the people have overcome religious differences to work together for the good of the community. When he's not traveling, he lives in Massachusetts with his family. Richardsobol.com


Mary Reaves Uhles 

Mary Reaves Uhles began her career as an animator on projects for Warner Brothers and Fisher-Price Interactive. Since becoming a freelance illustrator, she has created illustrations for numerous books and magazines. Her books include The Little Kid's Table by Mary Ann McCabe Riehle and Beyond the Grave by Dottie Enderle. Most recently she illustrated a collection of poetry by J. Patrick Lewis titled Kooky Crumbs: Poems in Praise of Dizzy Days. She currently lives with her family in Nashville. 



Sarah Weeks 

Sarah Weeks has written more than fifty picture books and novels for children and young adults including the bestselling novels, Pie and So B. It (which is now a feature film). Two of her most recent titles include the novel Save Me a Seat and the picture book Glamourpuss. Weeks teaches writing at the New School University in New York City and is a founding member of ART, a traveling troupe of authors who perform reader’s theatre at conventions and conferences across the country. Born and raised in Ann Arbor,  she now lives in New York with her husband.  sarahweeks.com 



Farmer Jason 

Farmer Jason is the brainchild of rock music legend Jason Ringenberg of Jason and the Scorchers, pioneers of the modern Americana and alt-country genres. In 2002, he created Farmer Jason to educate and entertain children about farm life and the wonders of nature. As Farmer Jason he has released 4 records and a DVD. His Emmy-winning video program "It's a Farmer Jason" originated at Nashville Public Television and went on to air on PBS stations around the country. His music has won numerous awards, including the Parents' Choice Gold Award. 


Kidstuff w/ Sean McCollough 

This WDVX radio show is full of great music for kids and kids at heart. Today's show is being broadcast live from the festival with special guest Farmer Jason. 



Miss Lynn 

Miss Lynn loves a good story, and her favorite thing is to share them with kids through her songs, and to hear their stories in return when they talk and sing together.  misslynn.com  


Jodie Manross and Friends 

Knoxville singer-songwriter Jodie Manross and her friends will share fun original tunes and favorite children's songs.  



Sparky & Rhonda Rucker 

These talented performers combine American history with storytelling, finger picking and bottleneck blues guitar, old-time banjo, harmonica, spoons, and bones.  sparkyandrhonda.com  


Georgi Schmitt 

Get your passport ready! As a storyteller who has traveled the globe, Georgi brings together songs, stories, and movement for audiences of all ages. 


Faye Wooden 

A native Appalachian of Cherokee descent, Ms. Wooden draws on her own life experiences -- banker, bear trapper, herbalist, author, teacher, public speaker -- to touch the fabric of people's lives with her hypnotic voice and haunting tunes.  fayewooden.com  


Zoo Knoxville 

Come listen to a pack of animal tales about some of the amazing critters who've taken up residence in the Zoo. You may even get to meet a live animal or two!   zooknoxville.org  



Penguin Players 

Dollywood's Penguin Players will present a lively musical production of Lynn Plecas's book, Pretend.  



One World Circus 

You can join the fun! Clown around with juggling, tightrope walking, and creative silliness of all sorts. Located under the Clinch Avenue Bridge.  oneworldcircus.com  


Dr. Al Hazari 

Join this kid-friendly chemist as he demonstrates jaw-dropping, mind-bending, awe-inspiring experiments in front of your very eyes. Be prepared -- you may become part of the experiment!  


Titanic Museum Attraction 

Special guests from the Titanic Museum attraction in Pigeon Forge present their Titanic "ABC" program. Children will be engaged as costumed crew members deliver facts about Titanic and her passengers for every letter of the alphabet. Stories of the crew and passengers, as well as an etiquette lesson, will be intertwined in the presentation.