HomePrinceton PacketChildren’s Book Festival set for Sept. 14 in Princeton

Children’s Book Festival set for Sept. 14 in Princeton

Children in central New Jersey will get the chance to meet their favorite authors and illustrators at the 14th annual Princeton Children’s Book Festival.

On Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m., children and their families can come out to Hinds Plaza in Princeton for the festival.

For the 10th straight year, the festival will be organized through a partnership between the Princeton Public Library and jaZams, a children’s toy and book store in Princeton.

20% of the festival’s proceeds will be donated to the Princeton Public Library.

“The donation we receive from the partnership with jaZams supports all of the youth programming, collections and services for the youths. It all goes back into the library,” said Princeton Public Library Head of Youth Services Susan Conlon. “Last year was out biggest year and we estimated about 6,000 people attended.”

In 2018, jaZams brought in about $80,000 from the festival, which allowed for a $16,000 donation to the library’s youth services. Conlon also explained that the library uses the money to support the summer reading program the library offers.

“We had 2,000 children for our reading program this summer. This festival does not just help with a one-day thing; the additional funding helps make the library stronger throughout the year,” she said. “The funds help us do extra things, provide extra books and is something that helps sustain us each year.”

Conlon said the library staff works year round to get the festival ready with authors and illustrators.

“Every year, we invite an illustrator to do the festival poster and we then use those graphics for all the materials with the festival,” Conlon said. “This year’s illustrator is John Parra. He created a piece of original art that we use to promote the festival.”

Authors involved in the festival are selected by the library staff and must submit an application to process.

“After that, we connect with Dean Smith and Joanne Farrugia of jaZams. We confer with them about who has been applying and we start looking at the list,” she said. “We come together with them more as the year goes on to make sure the authors and illustrators have ample stock of books.”

A seating time is put out for authors and illustrators to help people navigate and browse through author’s work people may not be aware of.

“We seat them and have all of their stock brought out to the tables. Children can get the book, speak to the author and have it signed by the author,” she said. “When people go around the tables after getting the books they then can purchase the books at the jaZams table. It works out really well that way.”

Co-owner of jaZams Dean Smith said the festival is a wonderful way of supporting children’s literature.

“We give children the ability and chance to meet authors and illustrators of their favorite books, which is a special moment. This festival really really helps encourage children to read more,” he said. “It is important for us to draw aw many people as we can to this event because it allows us to give more to the library youth services.”

Smith said jaZams jumped at being the book seller for the festival when the partnership began nine years ago. He said they wanted to be a part of it as long as the festival became more community oriented.

“That proved to be the secret sauce. Having the books right there with the authors, as well as, matching both authors and illustrators of the books created a different dynamic and energy. We have people coming from upstate New York, Massachusetts and Virginia,” Smith said. “People really love the essence of it.”

He said he hopes people get the joy and meaning of children’s literature from the festival, and from the award-winning illustrators and authors being present.

“People come from all over. We have everyone who is interested in children’s literature who are attracted to this festival. It is really exciting for us to see children that excited about books,” Conlon said. “You see children just completely excited about meeting their favorite authors, which is really special. It creates a closer interaction between the author and child. I hope this significantly enforces the children’s passion for books.”

The 14th annual Princeton Children’s Book Festival will be on Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Children and their families attend the festival at Hinds Plaza in Princeton.

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