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This Year’s Book Festival Headliner? A Supreme Court Justice

Saturday’s Library of Congress fair is heavy on Washington dignitaries

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden will interview Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor about her new kids’ book on Saturday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden will interview Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor about her new kids’ book on Saturday. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

When 7-year-old Sonia Sotomayor found out she had diabetes, she ran from the doctor’s needle and hid under a parked car.

Now the Supreme Court Justice is sharing that memory and more as she launches a picture book for kids at the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

She won’t be the only Washington heavyweight at the 18th annual festival, which begins Saturday at 9 a.m. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will sign copies of her new book on fascism, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will reflect on leadership “in turbulent times.”

“We have more than 100 authors, ranging from fiction to nonfiction to children’s authors. I’ve said it’s like a booklover’s paradise,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said. “I get to interview Justice Sotomayor about her new children’s book about her life, and I’m really excited about that.”

Other authors launching new books are Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith (“American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time”) and Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo (“Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist”). Roxane Gay, Jennifer Egan and Amy Tan will also take the stage.

[Meet Tracy K. Smith, the Nation’s Poet Laureate]

More than half of the authors participating are women. Hayden, who is the first woman and the first African-American to be librarian, said she’s proud of the event’s diversity overall.

“We have such a diverse range of authors who represent the diversity of the literary community,” she said. “Some of the festival highlights for me, personally: Doris Kearns Goodwin — she really makes history come alive; Amy Tan has a new book; [and] Jacqueline Woodson, our national ambassador for young people’s literature, has several new books out this fall. So I’m excited to hear from them.”

Saturday’s event is a high point of Hayden’s year, who has been librarian since 2016.

“This festival is such a joy — to be thinking about books and reading all day long and looking at all the ways that books can spark your imagination,” she said.

Hayden added, “It’s an immersive experience for book lovers, and visitors can walk away with a new set of books and a reading list for the year ahead. Also, if we make reading fun, this will be an activity that more young people will want to be part of.”

Sotomayor’s new book, “Turning Pages: My Life Story,” isn’t her first. A young adult version of her 2013 memoir, “My Beloved World,” is also due out from Penguin Random House this fall. Both are available in English and Spanish.

The National Book Festival is Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Washington Convention Center. Doors open at 8:30 a.m., and programs run until 7:30 p.m. Entry is free.