Take a Look, It’s in a Book
New Orleans Book Festival delights the kid in all of us
There are few sights in this world more touching than that of a child reading a book. The early readers struggle over words and discover their own tenacity when they keep trying. The slightly bigger kids are still young enough to let their eyes light up with the ideas on the page – physically manifesting their imaginations. There’s a lot of hope in children. Watching their minds expand in real time gives me faith that they will be smarter and kinder than us, that they will figure this world out and make it better if we can just keep them reading and stay out of their way.
To that end, New Orleans is lucky to have a free annual festival that focuses on just that – children’s literacy and healthy family activities. The New Orleans Book Festival returns on Saturday, Nov. 11 to the Big Lake at City Park with free books, books for sale, live author readings, performances, beloved book characters and more. This year’s event is extra special because it has been chosen as the kickoff event for New Orleans’ official Tricentennial celebration.
That the first event of the Tricentennial is a family-friendly festival is no accident. The 300 birthday of New Orleans is expected to draw a record-breaking number of tourists. Families are an important part of that demographic. According to a TravelsAmerica study published in July 2017 by Kantar TNS that explored Louisiana visitor profiles, 30 percent of the travel parties to New Orleans in 2016 traveled with children. The marketing efforts of the local tourism industry are becoming more effective at educating travelers about the world of New Orleans beyond the French Quarter. The New Orleans Book Festival is a perfect hybrid of culture and family fun.
There are activities for children of all ages, and families can plan to be there for an hour or for the entire event. Festivalgoers can start their day at 1:00 p.m. by browsing the books available and participating in the games and activities designed especially for children. Authors of children’s, young adult, contemporary fiction and non-fiction books are scheduled to speak and do readings through the afternoon.
As the sun begins to set, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra will begin its performance at 5:30 p.m. The music program is composed (purposeful word choice) of children’s favorites, patriotic themes and New Orleans-born classics. As a special symphonic treat, the city of New Orleans commissioned the Orchestra’s David Anderson to compose music to accompany "What the Sleepy Animals Do at Audubon Zoo," a children's book written by local authors Ryan and Grace Murphy.
After the Orchestra concludes, fireworks will light the sky over the Big Lake at 7:00 p.m.
Some delicious food vendors will be onsite, but if you want to save money by bringing your own food it seems to still be allowed. The festival planners work hard to keep this festival free and affordable to all families. They even organized free busses between area libraries and City Park during the event. But if you can afford to buy some food, it will be tasty and the vendors will appreciate it. They include: Bratz Y’all, Crêpes A La Cart, Curly Q Fry Company, Kettle Corn, Moe’s Original Bar B Que and Jamba Juice.