Book It to the 'Times' Festival of Reading

The ninth annual St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading, a two-day event that draws more than 20,000 book lovers, celebrates literacy through a wide variety of events that includes talks by award-winning authors, discussion panels with writers and journalists, book signings, a book market and open-air stages of music, poetry and drama.

Of the 30 authors featured in this year's festival are five Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Public Radio (NPR) commentators and many notable novelists, mystery writers and children's book authors.

The featured authors include: Pulitzer Prize-winner David McCullough, author of John Adams, the best-selling biography of the second U.S. president; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg (assuming he's back from Pakistan) whose latest book, Ava's Man, is a heartfelt biography of his maternal grandfather; and North Carolina native Tony Earley, the author of Here We Are in Paradise (short stories), Jim the Boy (a novel) and a new memoir, Somehow Form a Family.

A Marketplace of Booksellers and Exhibitors hosts representatives from more than 30 businesses, such as Haslam's bookstore, University Press of Florida, Xlibris Corp., the National Writers Union and the Pinellas County Public Library.

There are also great activities for children of all ages at StoryLand, a stage and tent area where children's books come alive. The StoryLand Stage presents a wide variety of music, theater and storytelling for children. A Storybook Character Parade takes place at the stage at 1 p.m. both days. And kids can enjoy fabulous storytellers at the Big Top Story Tent.

All Festival authors hold autographing sessions immediately following their book discussions, and sign language interpreters are provided for specific presentations.

The festival takes place at Eckerd College, 4200 54th Ave. S., St Petersburg. For more info, such as panel discussion topics and the author speaking schedules, visit