With approximately 600,000 to one million books being published annually in the US, it’s a great time to head over to the Tucson Festival of Books, which will take place this weekend on the campus of the University of Arizona. In addition to being a celebration of books and community, the Tucson Festival of Books also raises awareness of and support for literacy programs like Reading Seed, Literacy Connects and university literacy outreach programs.
The festival started in 2009 and has contributed more than $1 million to literacy organizations. It’s also generated more than $3 million for the local economy.
“Giving back to promote literacy is the real success of the festival,” said Bill Viner, one of the festival’s founders. “Literacy is the foundation of building a strong, vibrant community, and the Tucson Festival of Books is proud to play a role in ensuring vital literacy programs are available.”
More than 450 authors will be there, including Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Catherine Coulter, and Noam Chomsky. And audience of more than 130,000 is expected to attend.
The free festival is more than just big names in books: it will also include panel discussions, poetry, exhibitor booths, two youth contests, and a variety of other performances. The festival also includes Science City, an exhibit promoting science, technology, engineering, and math opportunities for young people.
In addition to being a fun event, literacy festivals such as this do the important job of promoting the importance of reading and education. Experts estimate that almost 40% of fourth graders in the US are not at basic levels of reading proficiency—and the number is higher when it comes to low income and minority families, not to mention those learning English as a second language. And without basic literacy skills, it’s becoming harder and harder to actively participate in American society.
If you’re in the Tucson area and have the opportunity to attend the Festival of Books—or if your area has a great book festival—please share in the comments below!