Our Trip to the Tucson Festival of Books

Much to my English major delight, Bookworm is, well, a total book worm.  He loves reading and has since he was just a small baby.  He loved being read to (and still does, which we do quite frequently thanks to Sonlight), and he loves to read.  It’s not unusual for me to admonish him, “No free reading until you’re done with school.”  It is a wonderful problem to have.

For months now, Bookworm has been excited about the Tucson Festival of Books.  He had the date written on his calendar and counted down the days.

???????????????????????????????The Tucson Festival of Books was started in 2009.  That first year, there were 50,000 attendees.  Last year, there were 100,000 attendees!

When I finally took the time to look at the schedule, I was both excited AND overwhelmed!  There was so much to choose from and so many fabulous authors coming to speak.  Some of the authors I was interested in hearing were Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Joyce Carol Oates, and Scott Turow.

Best of all?  The Tucson Festival of Books is completely free!

Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the schedule until Friday night.  Tickets to some of these larger talks were available online for free, but the deadline was Friday at noon.  While I missed the big ticket speakers, I’ve learned my lesson for next year.  However, we still had a great time.

We got to the University of Arizona at 9 a.m. and were completely astonished at just how large the Tucson Festival of Books is.  It covered a large portion of the campus, and even though we were there for six hours, we only took in a small portion of the festival.

Our first stop was the free book tent where each of our kids got to pick a free book thanks to the festival.  They were thrilled.

Listening to Great Speakers

After that, my husband took the girls to the children’s area to do some activities.  Bookworm and I headed indoors to listen to a few talks.

Personal Histories from a Belgian Concentration Camp

The first talk we attended was presented by James Deem and Leon Nolis.  Deem was vacationing in Belgium when he learned of a small concentration camp, Breendonk.  What he learned there inspired his book (set to be released in August, 2015), The Prisoners of Breendonk: Personal Histories from a WWII Concentration Camp.

The camp is now a museum, and it was left largely the way it was at the end of WWII.  Nolis’ photos are haunting.

This was a fascinating presentation, and I can’t wait to read the book when it comes out.

Outstanding International Books for Young People, K-12

The next event we attended was an introduction to books that have been included on the 2013, 2014, and 2015 USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People) Outstanding International Books List.  (The list can be found on their website, if you’re curious.)  These books are all books that were written in another country and then translated and published in the U.S.

I found several new books to read to the girls, and Bookworm found several new books (and authors) to read.

United States National Parks

While we were at the conferences, my husband and the girls were busy at many, many tents set up with activities for kids.  This is such a child-friendly conference!

After we met up again, we had our sack lunch we had packed, and then we went to the United States National Parks’ tents.

???????????????????????????????Kids got a brochure and had to get 11 stamps for doing different activities.  Each tent had a different educational activity.  For instance, at one tent, kids were shown 8 pictures of wild animals.  Then, there were rubber molds of the animals’ feet.  Kids had to match the feet to the right animal.

At another tent (pictured above) they had to try to identify which skull was each animal’s.  (Notice the one on the left with the bumps?  That’s a gila monster’s.  It has bumps on its bones!)

In addition, there were plenty of brochures for the many national parks in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

Doing the activities and getting the stamps took the kids about an hour.  Afterward, they received a small prize (a park book or badge) and they were entered into a raffle.

After a long day in the hot sun, we were beat.  Like I said, this festival is a fabulous event, and we only scratched the surface as far as activities and presentations.  All of us are excited to go again next year!

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