Unbound Book Festival

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COLUMBIA - Children filled school gymnasiums across Columbia for the second day of the Unbound Book Festival. The festival showcases authors from all genres but part of Friday was focused on youth literature. Authors Salina Yoon, Anthony John and more spent their time speaking to children about their personal experiences and how it led them to their writing careers. 

"I was exposed to such few books especially at my home and so I thought it was important for kids to know regardless of being exposed to books at an early age or not, whether they're good reader or writers now or not, that there's hope and you can get past those struggles," Yoon said. 

Yoon, who spoke at Blue Ridge Elementary School, was born in South Korea and spoke about her experience growing up not speaking English and feeling alone. She said that her past experiences influenced the books she writes today. Not only does she take experiences from her own life, she is also influenced by her family and friends. 

"[My favorite book is] Penguin and Pinecone. That book is probably the most well known but it's also my favorite because it was inspired by my son who brought home a pinecone...he wanted to befriend," Yoon said 

Author Alex George started the festival three years ago and works closely with the authors to bring them to Columbia. Brandy Sanchez said collaboration was essential to this year's festival. 

"The Columbia Public Schools Foundation pays to bring the authors into the school system and the Friends of the Columbia Public Library support the authors' presence at the festival," Sanchez said. 

Both Sanchez and Yoon emphasized the importance of exposing literature to the Columbia community. 

Author Anthony John spoke to Shepard Elementary School shared a similar background with Yoon. John was born in England and spent most of his youth writing and studying music. He now lives in St. Louis which helped influence his book Mascot. Both Yoon and John connected with students and showed them how to be themselves during their presentations. 

The festival activities continue Friday night with keynote speaker Zadie Smith and finish off Saturday with events beginning at 9:30a.m. 

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