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A Celebration of Literacy and Community: The 2019 RI Festival of Children's Books & Authors

One of the most highly respected children’s literature events in the country was held right here at Lincoln School on Saturday, October 18. The Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books and Authors, now in its fifteenth consecutive year, attracted over 2,000 people. This event, which was chaired by Lower School Librarian Meagan Lenihan P’26 and Kate Davis Lentz from the Center of the Book, has been held at Lincoln since 2004. Authors this year included James Dean, Angela DiTerlizzi, Tony DiTerlizzi, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Torrey Maldonado, Megan McDonald, Oge Mora, Vanessa Brantley Newton, John Rocco, Dan Santat Matt Tavares, and Chris Van Allsburg.

On Friday afternoon, visiting author VANESSA BRANTLEY NEWTON gave an inspiring presentation to both Lower and Middle School students, touching on a myriad of topics, including drawing, creativity, diversity, beauty, and love. Vanessa has illustrated numerous picture books, including The Girl Who Heard Colors (by Marie Harris), Mary Had a Little Glam (by Tam-mi Sauer), One Love (by Cedella Marley), A Night Out with Mama (by Quvenzhané Wallis), and The Youngest Marcher (by Cynthia Levinson), as well as the chapter book series Ruby and the Booker Boys (by Derrick Barnes) and Jada Jones (by Kelly Starling Lyons). She wrote and illustrated Let Freedom Sing and Grandma’s Purse. Vanessa's visit was made possible due to the generosity of Sabre-Pearle Davis-Griffin's '26 family.

That evening, at the kickoff, we hosted the Providence premiere of Judy Moody, Stink and the Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt presented by the Gamm Theater for an audience of almost 200. The evening was made complete with a treasure hunt and walk-the-plank step-and-repeat, put together by the Fonseca family.

On Saturday, each author/illustrator gave a 30-minute presentation about their work and their philosophy, and all attendees had the opportunity to talk with them and have books signed. Books were available for purchase at the event thanks to Savoy Bookshop & Cafe–they reported that it was their biggest single event sales ever! Guests also enjoyed many other activities, such as face painting, music, storytelling, crafts, and tattoos. RISD illustration students even enjoyed a private session with Tony DiTrilezzi. Food was also a highlight, as we had two food trucks throughout the weekend–FanCheezical and Rocket, as well as indoor cafes provided by La Creperie, Chef Emily and the Senior Class, and The Shop.

The Book Festival is a community event for Lincoln School and for greater Rhode Island. Publishers donated over 200 titles by festival authors, which we distributed with free vouchers to librarians, teachers, and principals from underserved communities throughout the state. Upper School Librarian Jenifer Bond organized a Lincoln community book drive for Books Are Wings, and together the community donated thousands of books. Four authors arrived midweek to visit RI schools and libraries, and twelve community organizations had tables set up at the Festival, including:

BOOKS ARE WINGS: Books Are Wings is a nonprofit organization dedicated to putting free books in the hands of children. This school year, Books Are Wings will distribute 54,000 free books to low-income children in schools, libraries, community centers, daycares, and parks throughout Rhode Island. You can learn more about them at www.booksarewings.com.

CARTOONING WORKSHOP WITH TIM JONES: Tim Jones is a comic strip artist and cartoonist from Smithfield, Rhode Island. His popular, self-syndicated comic strip “SOUR GRAPES” appears in multiple newspapers in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, including the Sunday edition of the Sun Chronicle. His first book–Sour Grapes–is a collection of his comic strips and other related drawings.

GIRL SCOUTS OF RHODE ISLAND: The Girl Scout Leadership Experience provides girls in kindergarten through twelfth grade with a wide variety of leadership opportunities. The program encourages increased skill-building and responsibility and also promotes the development of strong leadership and decision-making skills. All program activities are grade-appropriate.

REACH OUT AND READ RI: Reach Out and Read RI’s (RORRI) mission is to give young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. RORRI-trained medical providers guide families during every well-visit from the newborn visit– five years old, coaching familes about the importance of reading aloud daily with their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Concurrently, these providers give each child a new developmentally-appropriate and culturally-appropriate book at each visit. Established in 1999, RORRI now partners with 71 hospitals, clinics, practices, and community health centers statewide, and 395 pediatric medical providers reached 38,285 children and provided 77,908 new books at no cost to Rhode Island families during the last year.

RHODE ISLAND CENTER FOR THE BOOK: The RI Center for the Book is a statewide organization devoted to promoting personal and community enrichment by celebrating the art and heritage of reading, writing, making, and sharing books. Programs include a diverse range of events,lectures, partnerships, prizes, contests, and awards. The Center provides access to books in a wide range of formats, supported by relevant, socially impactful programming, created and curated by an inspired network of teachers, librarians, writers, and readers. RI Center for the Book has been the RI affiliate of the National Center for the Book at the Library of Congress since 2003.

RHODE ISLAND CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD: The Rhode Island Children’s Book Award is an annual award given to the author of a book chosen by Rhode Island children in grades 3–6 as their favorite. The award was given for the first time in 1991 to Something Upstairs by Avi. School librarians should visit this table to enter for a chance to win a set of the 2017 RICBA titles!

RHODE ISLAND COALITION OF LIBRARY ADVOCATES: The Rhode Island Coalition of Library Advocates (COLA) is a statewide non-profit grassroots organization that advocates for libraries of all kinds to enhance the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders. As a section of RILA (Rhode Island Library Association), COLA is dedicated to the development of citizen support for the promotion of libraries.

RHODE ISLAND LATINO ARTS: Rhode Island Latino Arts was founded in1988 as the Hispanic Heritage Committee and is the oldest, most distinguished Latino nonprofit arts organization in Rhode Island. We promote the art, history, and cultures of the Spanish-speaking people of Rhode Island.

RHODE ISLAND PBS EDUCATION SERVICES: The Education Services Department of Rhode Island PBS provides content and services to support teaching and learning for educators, students, parents, and learners of all ages in our community. Resources are distributed free-of-charge and leverage high-quality public media content adapted for instructional use, supported by outreach efforts and in-person trainings.

WRITE RHODE ISLAND: Write Rhode Island is a short story competition for RI students in grades 8–12, presented by Goat Hill and School One. The competition is open to all public, private, parochial, or home-school students throughout the Ocean State. Winners in various categories by grade level will receive prizes, awards, and an opportunity to be published. Workshops, free and across the state, are for students to learn about short story writing and get writing prompts for the competition. Submission guidelines, competition description, and a list of all of the workshops can be found at www.school-one.org.

All in all, it was another great year at the RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors! Make sure to join us next year on Saturday, October 17.

Pictures taken by Glenn Osmundson