The Library of Congress is presenting the 21st National Book Festival from Sept. 17-26, and Indiana’s libraries and cultural institutions are invited to participate.
Indiana is home to a deep and rich literary heritage stemming from our long-ago classic writers like Gene Stratton-Porter and James Whitcomb Riley to the big names of the ’60s and ’70s – Kurt Vonnegut, Mari Evans, Etheridge Knight and many others – all the way up to today, where everyone knows names like John Green and Meg Cabot. Additionally, characters like Garfield, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Clifford and Little Orphan Annie are all Hoosier creations. It’s impossible to keep track of a list of Indiana writers because new ones emerge and succeed daily. Today, Maurice Broaddus is writing Afrofuturist science fiction. Ashley C. Ford writes about race and body image. Kaveh Akbar’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker. Kelsey Timmerman’s investigations lead to books about responsible consumerism. What draws all these voices together? Being from Indiana. Being Hoosiers.
Thankfully, there are ample opportunities to celebrate our Indiana writers. The Indiana Authors Awards elevate Hoosier literary voices through prizes, programs and initiatives designed to connect readers to authors. Our Indiana media outlets frequently release stories and articles about top Hoosier writers, past and present. The Indiana Center for the Book even has a YouTube series where a “Hoosier Toucan” interviews contemporary Indiana authors, along with a light-hearted show and tell segment. That being said, it’s especially exciting when Indiana authors get the chance to be showcased on a national, and indeed international, stage.
The National Book Festival is a premiere event on the literary calendar. During the course of its 20-year history, the festival has become one of the most prominent literary events in the nation. In 2020 and in 2021, the festival has gone virtual and organizers hope that Indiana libraries and cultural institutions will participate in the festival in a myriad of ways. Watch parties of author talks, book discussions about one of the featured speakers and podcast parties are all possibilities.
The Indiana State Library and Indiana Humanities have partnered together to create a toolkit that encourages meaningful participation in the festival at a local level. Who better to present this national event to our local communities than the librarians, teachers and cultural leaders who connect to Hoosiers every day?
We invite you to use this toolkit to connect to the National Book Festival. Explore the writings of an author you’ve never heard of before. Learn more about the Library of Congress, your national library. Listen to a podcast interview in a group and discuss it afterwards. Share the ways you use the toolkit so that others can benefit from your creative ideas in the future. Above all, enjoy connecting with Hoosier literary heritage. The Golden Age of Indiana literature isn’t in the past. It’s here right now!
This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.