Stephen King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar among authors at National Book Festival

WASHINGTON —  “Books taking you on a Journey,” is how Gayle Osterberg, Library of Congress spokeswoman, described the theme at this year’s Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Photo of Gene Luen Yang
Gene Luen Yang, the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, attends the 16th Library of Congress National Book Fair on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

This year’s event poster shows a boat being swept away with children who are immersed in reading books on board.

Repeat festival goer Annie Smith, a sixth grader from Hanover, Pennsylvania, returned with her mother, Erin Smith.

“We’ve come the past couple years,” said Erin Smith, who is an eighth grade English teacher. “We wouldn’t miss it.”

The festival, which entered its 16th year, is free and open to the public and features more than 120 authors. The event was held Saturday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. An estimated 200,000 were expected to attend.

Osterberg said this is the first year the festival, which runs until 10 p.m., has a main stage and a phone app.

Annie Smith said she had a passion for books and basketball and said she was excited at the chance of meeting NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who writes children’s books.

He was on the main stage promoting his book, “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White.”

Stephen King was the first author featured on the main stage. For 30 years, King has been thrilling and terrifying the American public with books such as “The Shining,” “Cujo,” “The Stand” and “Carrie.” He recently celebrated his 69th birthday.

Carla Hayden, the first black Librarian of Congress, attended at the event.  Also in attendance was Gene Luen Yang, who was named the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

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