Children’s Festival of Reading is back

Mary Pom ClaiborneDowntown, Our Town Youth

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, our hearts are fond indeed. We’ve missed hosting the Children’s Festival of Reading for the last couple of years. This comeback year is going to be a big one. On May 21, World’s Fair Park will be abuzz with everything from world-class authors and illustrators to all things 1982 in honor of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of Knoxville’s World’s Fair. We are especially pleased to partner with Visit Knoxville on a celebration day of epic proportion.

Attendees will have a chance to meet storybook characters from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Dragon Loves Tacos” and “Rainbow Fish.” Kids of all ages will want to see Cookie Monster and Big Bird who will be on hand at the East Tennessee PBS tent. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs will lead the Parade of Books, which steps off at 2 p.m., and everyone is invited to join the procession. The free event is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. More information is available here.

Headlining the day are:

  • Erin Entrada Kellya 2018 Newbery Medalist and author of “Hello Universe” and “We Dream of Space.”
  • Kwame Mbalia, New York Times bestselling author of the “Tristan Strong” series and “Black Boy Joy.”
  • Tad Hills, author/illustrator known for his “Duck and Goose” series and “How Rocket Learned to Read” for which he won the Irma Simonton Black and James H Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature.
  • Jeffrey BrownNew York Times bestselling cartoonist and author of the popular middle-grade “Jedi Academy” series. His humorous parodies include Star Wars adventures and Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series.
  • Laurel Snyder is author of six novels for children including “Bigger than a Bread Box” and “Penny Dreadful.” Her picture books include “Charlie and Mouse,” “The Forever Garden,” “Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova,” “Nosh, Schlep, Schluff” and “The Longest Night.”
  • Daniel Wiseman, a Knoxville-based illustrator with 16 books under his belt.

Musicians, storytellers and all-day activities: 

  • WDVX’s Kid Stuff Live hosted by Sean McCollough
  • Faye Wooden, storyteller
  • Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, musical storytellers
  • Miss Lynn, musician and storyteller
  • Jodie Manross, musician
  • Sarah Pirkle, musician
  • Science demonstrations by Dr. Al Hazari
  • Meet Storybook Characters
  • Parade of Books led by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs
  • Miss Libby’s Arts & Crafts Tent
  • Toddler Town – a preschool play area
  • Circus in a Suitcase by One World Circus
  • Build a Sunsphere out of books
  • The Molar Express by East Tennessee Pediatric Dentistry
  • Dozens of community groups and organizations with fun activities

The festival kicks off a summer of reading and provides a chance to sign up for Mayor Jacobs’ Read City summer challenge: Dive In Deep. Mayor Jacobs created Read City USA to help encourage families to make reading a priority and to support the schools in elevating the third grade reading rate.

The Children’s Festival of Reading was made possible through the generous support of Visit Knoxville, Tennessee Arts Commission, Humanities Tennessee, Blue Cross Blue Shield Community Trust, Downtown Knoxville Alliance, East Tennessee Pediatric Dentistry, ORNL Federal Credit Union, Pilot Corporation and the Friends of the Knox County Public Library.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library. She writes a Wednesday feature for

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