I gush every year about the Miami Book Fair International. As an avid reader, I'm always blown away and grateful that so many authors and poets that I really love (this year I was excited about Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, Joy Harjo, Francine Prose, Mary Gordon, Joyce Carol Oates, and Al Gore) are coming to town. Seriously, it is like Disney for readers--you become giddy as you read the lineup, and don't know where to go first!
As a Miami resident, I'm kind of blown away that this festival rocks so hard, considering we're not as well-known for our love of books as our love of...boobs?...you know what I mean. Miami as a city is known for being really good at partying, looking good, sun, fun, bling, the art scene, and the killer nightlife. And by "killer nightlife", I'm not talking after-hours book clubs (though we do have plenty of those--did you see this cool article in The Herald last week?)
As a parent, I have two points to make. First, the organizers of this event REALLY go out of their way to make the experience a great one for kids and teens. I mean, they don't just throw in some token kids activities like every festival seems to--you know, there's always a bounce house and some kind of vague "children's activities" listed in the lineup. But the Book Fair really goes all out for kids, does it right, and ties everything in to the overall theme of reading and books. Beyond booths manned by publishers geared to younger age groups, the planned activities are targeted to either kids, tweens, or teens, which is awesome. This year, there are several workshops for teens on creating and developing comics. Separate breakouts on the same topic are geared to 12 and under. As always, the Children's Alley for younger kids will have hands on activities, characters wandering like Elmo, Arthur, Clifford, Curious George, and other characters. There is a glamtastic tent based on the Fancy Nancy books that I'm sure Elle will enjoy, and much, much more. Read this full listing of Children's Alley events for more info.
Back to the older kids--wandering through the booths is great fun for older kids. Skyler (10) loves to browse the booths, because it's fun for her to talk to the authors who are often there representing their books. She loves getting her purchases autographed by the authors--her dad and I love watching her get excited about books, and I think meeting and chatting with the authors gives the whole reading experience another dimension.
So...just go! Couldn't ask for a better family activity for a Saturday or Sunday fall afternoon. Admission for adults is $8, kids under 18 are free. There are other discounted admissions listed here for students, over 62, etc. AND--the Street Fair on Friday is 100% FREE if you can make it. There are a lot of kids activities during the Friday Street Fair too, including the hands-on activity stations, plus live performances of The Lorax, Goldilocks & the Three Bears, and The Magically Reading Show.
There is free parking at one of the lots (see the above link) but be warned--get there early or you'll miss out.
Visit the Miami Book Fair International main site for even more information.
photo credit: sxc.hu/lusi