Mama Madison: Sessions at the Wisconsin Book Fest aimed at the younger set

All things "word," for kids

While my higher-minded friends were busy devouring classics like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, I was the kid more likely to be hunkered down with a couple hours worth of "Two-Minute Mysteries." Attention span has never really been my strength. And despite a sincere crush on Pa in the TV series, I could never fully relate to the rest of the Ingalls family in any of the "Little House" books. It didn't matter whether they were "In the Big Woods", "On the Banks of Plum Creek" or even "On The Prairie," homesteading just didn't do it for me. I was more into The Outsidersanything Judy Blume and Tiger Beat. I guess I wanted my heroes, heroines and teenybopper crushes to have come of age after 1950 (this would include Michael Landon, right?).

Sure, I may have read quite a bit, but I never really considered myself "literary". Books and magazines were pure entertainment, not something, I thought, to celebrate or revere. It never once occurred to me to go---or for my parents to take me--- to a book festival. To be fair, they never took me to a musical festival or film festival, either. I guess you could say we were equal opportunity non-festival goers.

Perhaps we didn't go to these things because they didn't exist in the 1970s. Or maybe, because growing up in up a large city, these kinds of events seemed daunting and chaotic, especially for people like my Mom and Dad who would have had to escort four, not always perfectly behaved, children.

But I don't really have the same excuses in Madison, WI in 2012. Getting downtown is quite manageable. And I only have three kids, all well past the tantrum age. So I will plan to hit the Wisconsin Book Festival this week. Because if you have kids, regardless of their ages or passions, the free, five-day program dedicated to all things "word," will definitely have something of interest for them.

On Thursday, Nov. 8, for instance, you can take your animal lover to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum to hear Maria Goodavage , author of Soldier Dogs, tell the story of the role service dogs have played throughout military history. And all day on the 9th has been dubbed High School Friday with tons of programming just for teens. From published authors, to writing workshops, to a First Wave spoken word evening event that will bring "page poets" and "stage poets" together at the Overture Center, it's chock full of first-rate programming. Saturday brings a highlight with Milwaukee's renowned children's theater, First Stage, presenting a 45-minute story/drama workshop based on the beloved Lois Ehlert's Mole's Hill, to be followed by a book signing with the Caldecott-winning author and illustrator. And to top it all off, your own child can become a "published" author on Sunday by attending a hands-on pop-up bookmaking workshop at Anthology on State Street.

This year's Book Fest theme is "Lost and Found" -- and it seems apropos. Because while I may have lost out on getting introduced to these kinds of events when I was a kid, I am hopeful I can find my "literary" mojo -- and begin to instill some in my kids -- this coming weekend.

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