Festival of Books attracts over 5,000

Stephanie Toone

Authors, illustrators and book-lovers alike joined this weekend for the Southern Kentucky Festival of Books.

The annual event attracted over 5,000 people to the Sloan Convention Center April 11-12.

Earlene Chelf, WKU Libraries/Kentucky Special Events Coordinator and director of the Southern Kentucky Festival of Books, said Kentucky has a high rate of illiteracy. She said the festival is a way to help people understand the importance of literacy.

The festival featured book readings and presentations by authors. Sally Derby, a children’s book author from Cincinnati, read her book, “My Steps,” to a group of children. Derby said she enjoyed the opportunity to share her writing.

“It brings an author a great deal of satisfaction to see a kid pick up a book,” Derby said.

Children attending the festival met popular literary characters like Clifford the Dog, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit. They also made necklaces in the arts and craft room and played the violin and cello in the “instrument petting zoo.”

Bowling Green participant Kim Johnson said she thought the children’s events were effective.

“My niece and nephew have thoroughly enjoyed it,” Johnson said. “It’s cool for them to have the author sign their book.”

But the activities weren’t limited to children. Adults could be found captivated by book presentations from authors like Cassandra King and Ron Steinman.

King, an author from Florence, S.C., read excerpts from her novel, “The Sunday Wife.” She also answered questions about the book, which examines the life of a Methodist preacher’s wife, Dean Lynch, in Florida.

“I wanted to write about a woman that did not have her own voice,” she said.

King said that she enjoyed the festival not only as a writer but as a reader as well. She said that she enjoys authors like Margaret Atwood and Truman Capote.

“Writing is so solitary,” she said. “(The festival) brings a connection with the writer and the reader.”

King said she was surprised at the response to the festival.

“There’s definitely a place for this kind of thing,” King said. “It’s a good place to meet people.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at [email protected]