Join Mayor Glenn Jacobs at 10:45 a.m. as he announces a new community-wide reading goal through Read City USA *


Join Knox County Public Library for its 15th annual Children’s Festival of Reading and kick off a summer of reading. This year, festivalgoers will help Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs launch “Read to the Moon,” a Read City USA initiative in association with the Summer Library Clubs. He will make an announcement from the Apollo Main Stage at 10:45 a.m. about a new community-wide reading goal. *


From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, World’s Fair Park will become the gateway to a universe of stories. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the moonwalk, the Mayor’s Read to the Moon initiative will encourage all Knox County citizens to get their library cards and log their reading hours with a new reading app called Beanstack.


Celebrating the day are storybook characters from Maurice Sendak’s classic tale Where the Wild Things Are, Curious George and The Day the Crayons Quit. They will be ready to give out hugs and pose for selfies.


NEW this year: Moon Glow Lounge!  An interactive experience of intergalactic life. The Festival is known for its stellar authors and illustrators, musicians, storytellers, puppets and much more. Featured areas include the Apollo Main Stage, the Music Tent, Storytellers Theatre and the Author and Illustrators Tent. Families can also make arts and crafts with Miss Libby, learn to juggle with One World Circus and run experiments in the Science Village with Dr. Hazari and The Muse. What’s a reading festival without puppets? Cattywampus Puppet Council will share their craft.
“We are really excited to launch our Read City USA program at the Festival this year. The Read City USA Goes to the Moon program encourages everyone to read over the summer,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “We’ve partnered with Knox County Schools and our libraries to help engage our community to elevate the importance of reading from birth. The sad truth is that only 40% of our third-grade students are reading on grade level. This is a call-out to all of us to be part of the solution and help make Knox County Read City USA.”


Currently, Knox County schools rank 28 out of 144 Tennessee school districts in third grade reading rates. Summer reading programs help students retain their academic skills over the school break. 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 for the Arts, Friends of the Knox County Public Library, Humanities Tennessee, Tennessee Arts Commission, BCBST Community Trust, Knox County Public Library Foundation, Music + Art, East Tennessee Pediatric Dentistry, ORNL Federal Credit Union, Pilot Flying J, Tennessee Arts Commission, Union Avenue Books, City of Knoxville, Downtown Knoxville (CBID), Knoxville News Sentinel, Comcast, East Tennessee PBS, WDVX, B97.5 and WBIR TV 10.


Meet the authors:


Ame Dyckman

Ame Dyckman is an award-winning, internationally translated author of Boy + BotThe New York Times Bestseller Wolfie the Bunny, Horrible Bear!, You Don’t Want a Unicorn, and more. She won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award for her picture book Tea Party Rules. Ame lives in central New Jersey with her family, ridiculously big-eared cat, book collection, closet full of hair dye colors, and of course, the characters from her stories. She’s currently building a homemade swimming pool for the protagonist of her latest release, Misunderstood Shark—mostly so she can have her bathtub back.


Kevin Lewis

Kevin Lewis is the author of many children’s picture books for toddler and early elementary grades including the classics Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo and My Truck is Stuck, Halloween favorite The Runaway Pumpkin, Dinosaur Dinosaur, and Not Inside This House. In 2018, Kevin became an agent for the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, primarily focusing on writer-illustrators and diverse voices. He has also worked as a children’s book editor for Scholastic and Disney/Hyperion. He lives with his husband and dog in a 200-year-old farm house in the Hudson Valley.


Natalie Lloyd

Natalie Lloyd is the New York Times Bestselling author of novels for young (and young at heart) readers. Her first novel, A Snicker of Magic, was an ALA Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a top 10 Kids Indie Next Pick and an NPR, iBooks and Parents Magazine best book of the year for children. It has also been optioned for television by Sony Tristar. Natalie’s other novels include The Key to Extraordinary, The Problim Children series, and Over the Moon. Her work has won accolades from Entertainment Weekly, Junior Library Guild, SIBA, Amazon and Bank Street College of Education, among others. Natalie writes in the shadows beside a sunny window in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Allison Varnes

Allison Varnes taught English in special education for eight years and has a PhD in education from the University of Tennessee. Allison’s passion for her students inspired her debut novel, Property of the Rebel Librarian. When she’s not writing, she howls along to the Hamilton soundtrack with a trio of Chihuahuas named after Peanuts characters.


Debbie Dadey

Debbie Dadey is an award-winning children’s book author who has written more than 150 books which have sold more than 47 million copies. She’s a librarian and former teacher who has seen firsthand the difference the right book can make for reluctant readers. She is best known for her series The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, written with Marcia Thornton Jones, and loves writing her new series, Mermaid Tales. She has had a great time channeling her inner girl (and inner mermaid) with the adventures of Shelly, Echo, Kiki and Pearl. In each book, the mergirls deal with kid issues, as well as learning things about the ocean in school. Debbie currently lives in Sevierville, TN with her husband and two dogs. She loves it when her three children visit and enjoys visiting schools and libraries all over the world.