The family-friendly Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival will take place at the Chappaqua Metro-North train station on Saturday, September 30, 2023.
Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, this year’s Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival promises to be the event’s most ambitious effort yet. The festival began in 2013 as a grass-roots volunteer effort and has grown from 65 authors to 180 and from 4,000 visitors to 8,000.
The annual festival brings children and their favorite authors together to promote community, inclusivity, and literacy. The books showcased cover a range of ages and reading levels and cut across multiple genres.
“Festivals like this allow families to interact with the authors and bring kids’ love of literacy alive by connecting in person,” says Dawn Greenberg, founder and executive director of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival.
Forging a personal connection between authors and readers
Children will be able to meet their favorite authors, listen to readings, and get their purchased books autographed. The extensive roster of participating authors and illustrators includes a mix of new writers and returning favorites.
Celebrity authors Mary Pope Osborn (best known as the author of the Magic Tree House series) and Alan Gratz (author of 19 novels and graphic novels for young readers) will headline the event this year.
Returning fan favorites include authors Torrey Maldonado, Victoria Kahn (author of the Pinkalicious picture book series), and Sonia Cherry-Paul (author of Stamped: For Kids). Maldonado’s newest book, Hands, was named one of the 12 best new children’s books published in January 2023. Oprah and The New York Times cited his earlier book, What Lane, as essential reading to discuss racism.
Making a difference one child, one book at a time
Despite parent and industry concerns about books being crowded out by gaming and social media, the hunger for kids’ books appears to be increasing, rather than waning,” says Greenberg.
“Educators and parents are well aware of the value of fostering a love of reading, both as foundational for academic success and as a way to learn empathy, expand their worldview, encourage imagination, and offer an enriching escape,” she adds.
Greenberg notes other regional children’s book festivals include ones in Princeton, NJ, and Hudson and Warwick, NY, and the Brooklyn Book Festival (designed for a general audience with a special children’s day). But the Chappaqua festival is the largest in the country in terms of the sheer number of kids’ book authors.
The festival actively stands with authors in the face of the growing book ban movement and will include a display of banned books of approximately thirty participating authors. In addition, visitors can purchase books that festival organizers will send to organizations like the Florida Freedom to Read Project.
Partial support for the festival comes from a WestchesterArts 2023 Arts Alive Grant to support community-based arts and cultural projects. Joining as a sponsor this year is KidLit TV, an educator-led organization that reinforces an appreciation of reading for children through its web-based television programming, and videos seen in over 700,000 schools nationwide.
Approximately 25% of proceeds from the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival go to nonprofit partners like Meet the Writers (meetthewriters.org) and The Book Fairies (thebookfairies.org), plus thousands of books will be donated to Title 1 schools throughout the area.
Getting to the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival
The event will take place rain or shine. Admission and parking for the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival are free. The train station location is easy to get to from Grand Central Station (less than an hour by train) or by car via the Saw Mill River Parkway (Exit 32).
A bubble bus and food trucks will be on-site to add to the festivities.
While in Chappaqua, families can explore the hamlet’s quaint downtown with shops and eateries, all a short walk from the train station. History buffs will enjoy visiting the nearby Horace Greeley House Museum.