For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


Philip Levine and Sonia Sanchez among the acclaimed authors, poets, science writers, and costumed children’s storybook characters who will enliven the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

PHILADELPHIA February 29, 2012—This April, writers, poets, and storybook characters will gather together inside and outside the Parkway Central Library for the Free Library’s sixth annual Philadelphia Book Festival. The Festival begins on Monday, April 16 with evening events throughout the week, and concludes with children’s activities outside in Shakespeare Park and a series of science-inspired events inside the Library on Saturday, April 21, in cooperation with the Philadelphia Science Festival.

A burst of books and inspiration, the six-day Philadelphia Book Festival embraces literacy, creativity, and the sciences with a diverse array of free and ticketed events for all members of the community.

Weeknight headline events include:

  • Nikky Finney, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry for her collection, Head Off and Split, an intimate and intense dialogue with emblematic people and events in African American life. (Monday, April 16)
  • An evening with United States Poet Laureate Philip Levine, author of 20 collections of poems. Levine has won nearly every major writing award, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. (Tuesday, April 17)
  • Sonia Sanchez, Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate and the author of several plays, children’s books, and nearly 20 collections of poetry, will share an evening of poetry. (Wednesday, April 18)
  • Robert Polito, editor, poet, and critic, discusses his landmark volume David Goodis: Five Noir Novels from the 1940s and '50s, which explores the career of the renowned Philadelphia hard-boiled crime novelist. (Thursday, April 19)
  • Fourth annual First Person Inter-City StorySlam, during which storytellers from Philadelphia and the challenging city will compete against each other with stories related to the theme: “Mistaken Identities.” (Friday, April 20, in conjunction with First Person Arts)

The Festival’s grand finale takes place inside and outside on the Parkway with the beloved Teddy Bear Picnic and Storybook Character Parade as well as the Eagles Bookmobile, KYW Kidcast, and the Free Library’s new mobile Hot Spot! In addition to these events for children and families, the Festival will host a number of renowned science writers inside in conjunction with the Philadelphia Science Festival.

Saturday science writer highlights include:

  • Dava Sobel, author of the bestselling books Longitude, Galileo’s Daughter, and The Planets, discusses her latest work, A More Perfect Heaven, which merges her Copernicus-inspired play, And the Sun Stood Still, with the nonfiction narrative of Copernicus’s life, seminal text, and revolutionary ideas.
  • Author and social psychology professor Jonathan Haidt discusses The Righteous Mind, his landmark exploration into the origins of morality and its role as the foundation of politics and religion.
  • D. Graham Burnett provides a comprehensive study of cetacean science, history, and policy in The Sounding of the Whale.

“The sixth annual Philadelphia Book Festival provides us with another opportunity to celebrate all the wonderful and creative things the Free Library of Big Ideas does year-round during one exciting week. With renowned authors and plenty of interactive events, this year’s Festival promises to provide fun for the whole family,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. “We’re especially thrilled to be partnering again with the Philadelphia Science Festival this year by hosting renowned science writers for great conversations at the Free Library.”

The Philadelphia Book Festival would not be possible without the support of our generous sponsors, including KYW Newsradio, 6ABC, and Krispy Kreme.

To find out more about the Philadelphia Book Festival, please visit

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850