When I think back on my childhood and when my kids were young, my fondest memories revolve around books. I have always loved to read, and it’s a passion I have strived to pass down to my kids. I remember so warmly my mom taking my brothers and me to the Menasha Public Library. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but when we went to the library and I could choose whatever books I wanted to bring home, I felt rich.

When my husband and I had our own three boys, I made sure to continue the tradition, even if as a parent, I realized that taking kids to the library is a lot of work — all the shushing and the stress when they wanted to “help” with the self-checkout. Nevertheless, we always left with a canvas bag filled fat and happy with glorious books that we would then read throughout the day and at bedtime. My sweetest memories of my boys when they were young were reading to them, their bodies snuggled warm against me.

Reflecting on my book memories, few moments filled me with as much anticipation as when the book order form came home with me, and then my kids. And when the book fair came to school? That was just beyond. For me, it was always “The Baby-Sitters Club,” while years later, my boys favored Lego books and the “Captain Underpants” series. I just loved that feeling of checking the books I wanted on the cutout strip, sending in a check and receiving my — or my kids’ — shiny books a few weeks later.

That feeling of nostalgia is exactly what we’re tapping into with the reveal of the 2021 Fox Cities Book Festival lineup. We will share the lineup Saturday, June 12 at McFleshman’s Brewing Co., 115 S. State St., Appleton, from 4:30-7 p.m. on the patio. We will announce the 2021 schedule in person at 4:30 p.m. We’ll distribute copies of our 2021 schedule and will hold a book fair where you can purchase the titles of our 2021 authors. Yes, you can enjoy a drink, buy books, and meet fellow book lovers as well as some of the 2021 authors! You will even have the chance to get some signed copies of books. We hope to see you there as well as at this year’s festival, taking place Oct. 13-17.

~ By Jess Thiel, Fox Cities Book Festival board member