Volunteers with Handley Regional Library and Shenandoah University’s Children’s Literature Conference will roll out the red carpet on Friday for four popular children’s authors and illustrators who are ready to party.
“Rockin’ the Library” will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Braddock Street outside Handley Library and serve as the finale of this year’s Children’s Literature Conference. The Friday street party is free and open to the public.
“Everyone really loves the opportunity to celebrate books and reading, and why not make it a party?” said Katie Moss, youth services manager at Handley Regional Library.
“We want to be a connective community hub,” she said. “That’s the foundation for what a public library offers to a community.”
The theme for this year’s literature conference, now in its 36th year, is “The Gift of Story.”
Rockin’ the Library started in 2017 but had a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, so organizers are excited to make this year’s event the biggest and best one yet.
The event will feature authors and illustrators who are also presenters at the conference, which started in late April with twice-weekly virtual visits to classrooms and educators. The authors could attend the conference either in person or virtually.
Friday’s event will include llamas provided by Double 8 Alpaca Ranch in Purcellville, in honor of “Llama Destroys the World” by author Jonathan Stutzman and illustrator Heather Fox.
Fox will offer art demonstrations along with author/illustrator Greg Pizzoli (“The Watermelon Seed” and the “Baloney” books) and author/illustrator Deborah Freedman (“Tiny Dino,” “Is Was” and others).
The celebration also includes book giveaways, cupcakes, face painting, deejay Ben Savory with Repeatable DJ and Photo Booth Services, dancing and story characters such as Pete the Cat.
One of the big moments of the evening will be when the authors and illustrators arrive by stretch limousine with a police escort to walk an actual red carpet up to the library, said Karen Huff, director of Shenandoah University’s Children’s Literature Program and professor of curriculum and instruction.
Winchester Mayor John David Smith Jr. will be there along with Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland and Winchester Sheriff Les Taylor, Moss said.
There will be sparklers, she said, and the authors and illustrators will parade down the street.
“The authors and illustrators are some of the biggest stars,” Huff said. “Children love their work and they’re very well-known authors and illustrators.”
The red carpet “shows everybody that reading is really important,” she said.
The event is made possible through support from the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, the Claude Moore Center for Literacy at Shenandoah University and the Friends of Handley Regional Library. The limo is furnished by National Fruit Product Company/White House Foods.
“We have quite a committee that works on this,” Huff said.
In 2019, there were an estimated 800 attendees, she said.
“We’re really hoping that it’ll be even bigger this year.”