Angie Johnson promotes the annual Washington Informer Spelling Bee to future participants at the Capital Book Fest on Saturday, June 15 at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in D.C. (D.R. Barnes/The Washington Informer)
Angie Johnson promotes the annual Washington Informer Spelling Bee to future participants at the Capital Book Fest on Saturday, June 15 at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in D.C. (D.R. Barnes/The Washington Informer)

Improving reading levels among D.C. students that are lower than the national average is a rallying call for community organizations like), which held its Third Annual Capital Book Fest on Saturday, June 15, at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in Northwest.

Sandwiched between several Juneteenth events along Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., the seven-hour book fest attracted hundreds of parents led by their children who stopped to read books, create art projects, listen to stories, and participate in spelling bees.

Jason King of TTP said he was “thrilled” at how well the event was received by local sponsors, including the the , several local businesses, such as the Washington Nationals and The Washington Informer, and groups offering an array of education resources for families with children of all ages and abilities.

Incorporated in 1998, TTP has distributed close to 120,000 books to help build home libraries for DCPS children and families. Turning the Page is a non-profit organization that focuses on schools in Wards 7 and 8, and it continues to link public school students, their families, and the community with resources and programming leading to a high-quality education.

Children's author Mayonn Paawewe-Valchev joined 16 local authors who sold and autographed books at the Capital Book Fest visitors on Saturday, June 15 at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in D.C. (D.R. Barnes/The Washington Informer)
Children’s author Mayonn Paawewe-Valchev joined 16 local authors who sold and autographed books at the Capital Book Fest visitors on Saturday, June 15 at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in D.C. (D.R. Barnes/The Washington Informer)

The Capital Book Fest also included discount sales of hundreds of children’s books which also serves as an annual TTP fundraiser. 

“The event also presented opportunities for collaboration among groups in D.C.,” King said, highlighting expressions of support for an even larger event next year with the, also located on the plaza. “We will want to also find ways to expand The Washington Informer spelling bee in schools located in Wards 7 and 8,” King added, where Turning the Page focuses its programs benefiting local families. 

Washington Informer Charities was also a book fest participant.

Sixteen authors, presented by, shared learning activities with the children who stopped by their booths and sold signed copies of their books.

, a children’s author and local teacher, shared three books: “ (2020), “” (2022), and “” (2023), respectively. 

James said her books are for everyone, but they are aimed at early childhood readers between 4 and 7 years.

“Reading,” she said, “helps to expand a person’s thinking. You can get out of your own reality, especially if you’re curious, adventurous, and brave in what you’re reading, you can get beyond your reality and start to imagine what’s beyond your day-to-day.”

Denise Rolark Barnes is the publisher and second-generation owner of The Washington Informer, succeeding her father, the late Dr. Calvin W. Rolark, who founded the newspaper in 1964. The Washington...

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