Historically, the Sunflower State has been more likely to ban books than to celebrate challenging literature. In the early 1990s, the Olathe School Board attempted to dustbin Annie on My Mind, a novel that — heaven forbid — paints two lesbians positively. More recently, parents in the Blue Valley School District tried erasing author Toni Morrison and other degenerates from the curriculum by claiming their prose “vulgar.” All of which makes the River City Reading Festival at the Lawrence Public Library (707 Vermont, 785-843-3833) all the more important. Through discussions, workshops and signings by Kansas writers, the festival marks an opportunity to resuscitate the asphyxiating culture of books. A caravan of poets, children’s authors, cartoonists and memoirists will bask in the literary glow, with the spotlight reserved for politico keynote speaker Thomas Frank, mystery maestro Scott Heim and cowboy wrangler Jim Hoy. Panels mine graphic novels and teen poetry, and workshops create mini-books and pet book snakes. As hockey mom and reported book banner of Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin scrambles toward the White House, repudiate ignorance by celebrating the written word between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. For a complete list of authors and readings, see rivercityreadingfestival.org.
Sat., Sept. 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 2008