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The Children’s New Bedford Bookfest isn’t just child’s play

Children’s New Bedford Bookfest illustration by Chelsea Arudda / Electrikk Clothing

The idea for the Children’s New Bedford Bookfest on Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10, 2017 at Groundwork! arose from the realization that ‘children’s books’ are anything but. Like all genres, they sometimes get pigeon-holed, but savvy readers and reviewers have long known that children’s book are, in fact, literature like any other type. Others are still in the process of discovering this for themselves.

I think it happened to me when I chanced uponThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Ostensibly a “children’s book,” reviewer after reviewer hailed the book by the author of American Gods and The Sandman as something that transcended the genre label. It was and is simply a great read – whether you’re 12- or 28- or 72-years-of-age. A fan due to Gaiman’s “adult” novels and graphic novels, The Graveyard Book opened my eyes to the richness of children’s book literature.

And then, he doubled down by writing The Ocean at the End of the Lane – and superior “children’s books” remained on my radar. So, it was no surprise to meet so many uniquely talented local authors at the New Bedford Book Festival who mined the same territory as Neil Gaiman in equally innovative ways.

Meeting so many creative authors – sometimes also gifted illustrators themselves or astute judges of which artistic partner to team-up with on a project – prompted another wholesale evaluation of the craft of creating a great children’s book. It also led myself, Sarah Athanas and Dena Haden – co-founders of Groundwork!, and the New Bedford Bookfest – to elect to host an all-children’s book edition of the popular ‘fest.

The Children’s New Bedford Bookfest arrives just in time for the holiday gift-buying season on Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10, noon – 4:00 p.m. each day. Like the other New Bedford Bookfests, it is free and open to the public and designed to be a platform for regional writers to sell their books to the reading public – of all ages.

Dedicating a New Bedford Bookfest designed for – but not limited to – children is very much in keeping with our mission of bringing to the City of New Bedford, the regional hub of Southcoast, the types of things you’d expect to find in a metropolitan area. It’s why we launched the Bookfest in the winter of 2016 – and were pleased to watch it become a huge success.

The Children’s New Bedford Bookfest takes a deeper dive into the vein of creativity that courses through our city and state and showcases it for the public at large. It’s a new insight into the city – just as good children’s literature is also a different kind of insight into how to be an adult, we think!

We’re especially happy to get the opportunity to work with area schools for the Children’s New Bedford Bookfest. Students from Holy Family Holy Name Elementary School and Global Learning Public Charter School will be reading from books featured at the ‘fest or from their own personal collections.

Meanwhile, it’s a festive weekend all-around. The Groundwork! Gallery’s Small Works show – featuring over 170 affordable works of art from around the region and country, will be on display during the weekend. Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, December 10 are also the dates of the beautiful Holiday House Tour put on by the New Bedford Preservation Society. You can stop by Groundwork! before, during or after the tour.

And, be sure to visit the historic Christmas display at Clasky Common Park, just down the street from Groundwork! on Purchase Street.

But not before you fill up on some hot soup from Destination Soups, set up in the Groundwork! kitchen during the Children’s New Bedford Bookfest!

  • The Children’s New Bedford Bookfest & Gift Bazaar will take place in time for the holiday gift-buying season on Sat. Dec. 9 and Sun. Dec. 10, from noon to 4:00 p.m. each day. It is free and open to the public at the coworking facility, Groundwork!, 1213 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA. Enter on via the Maxfield Street entrance; park either around teh building or in the New Bedford Credit Union lot across Purchase Street.  Follow updates on the event at



Steven Froias