- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2001

Not everyone had a book in their hands, but everyone undoubtedly was a reader at the National Book Festival yesterday on the east lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Thousands thronged to the heart of the District to celebrate books and American writing in the largest book and literacy event to have been organized here.
The first of many national festivals, the event marked the start of a White House effort over the next few days to highlight the importance of reading and to push President Bush's education bill to final passage. First lady Laura Bush, a former school librarian, will speak before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday about her experience as a childhood reader.
"This gives us all a sense of pride in American authors and people reading about American stories right here in the capital," said Mrs. Bush.
Dorothea Gilman, 53, one of the many who attended the festival, was stunned at the long line to get into the Library of Congress' visitors center, where books of 58 participating authors were being sold.
"I really want to get my book signed, so I'll have to get in line. I hope Mr. Franklin is still inside," Mrs. Gilman said. "It adds so much to the books we read and our understanding of the characters when the writer is present to explain and answer questions."
Like many of the other patrons of the book festival sponsored by Mrs. Bush, Antoinette Lewis, 56, watched as author Walter Mosley and historian John Hope Franklin spoke about their books, their lives and their inspirations with packed groups huddled in the shade of tents.
"I want to buy Walter Mosley's newest book 'Fearless Jones,'" said Mrs. Lewis.
"There were as many as five hundred people at the tent trying to hear us speak on the medium we love and they understand that love; I don't know anyone's politics, or their stances on life but I know we all connect here in the mind's eye," Mr. Mosley said, speaking at the mystery and suspense pavilion, which also had author Elizabeth Peters.


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