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.