Family Picks

Children’s book author speaks at NCMA

Children’s book author speaks at NCMA

April 20, 2012 

The big event this weekend is the unveiling of the new Nature Research Center in downtown Raleigh. But if you’re looking to avoid the crowds at the much-hyped opening, there are other ways to have a little family fun.

On Sunday beginning at 1 p.m., the N.C. Museum of Art will hold a spring family festival called Rhythms of the Heart, inspired by the writing and illustrations of acclaimed children’s author Ashley Bryan.

Most of Bryan’s books retell original African folk tales and are illustrated with colorful woodblock prints. The author will make a special appearance in the museum’s outdoor amphitheater at 3 p.m. Events end at 4 p.m.

“He is really a dynamic speaker, and he is able to communicate the joy of making art and the joy of being an author,” said Kristin Smith, the museum’s coordinator of family programs. “We’re hoping that families can find a spark to want to make their own art or even write their own books. At any age, you can become inspired to create.”

At the festival, families can participate in bookmaking and printmaking workshops, listen to storytellers, be part of a sing-along, meet animals at the N.C. Symphony’s petting zoo, or take a guided tour of a special exhibition focusing on Bryan’s work.

All the activities are intended to explore rhythm, rhyme, reading and writing. Everything is free and no reservations are required.

However, the museum does ask that you bring a children’s book or three to donate to Book Harvest, a nonprofit that encourages children’s reading.

If you haven’t spent much time at the museum, the festival is a great time to explore one of the Triangle’s jewels, even if you never go inside the building. The museum’s outdoor spaces are a great way to introduce energetic children to art without worrying about them touching the precious works inside.

Families can enjoy the museum’s sprawling grounds, which are laced with hiking trails and peppered with sculptures. Nearer to the building, the new sculpture gardens with swaying bamboo and glassy ponds are almost meditative spaces.

Go to for more information.

There are also a few other festivals happening around the Triangle this weekend:

• On Saturday and Sunday, the Kerr Scott Building at the N.C. State Fairgrounds will host the annual Lebanese Festival. You can check out authentic Lebanese food, folk and belly dancing, music and more. There are also crafts and other activities for children.

• In Apex, the Artists for Animals Faire will display the works of local painters, sculptors and photographers. Half the profits from the event will support local animal rescue groups. In addition to art, there will be cows, horses, cats, dogs and other animals. There will also be face painting and several animal rescue groups on-site, including a tiger rescue. The event is at Cloer Family Vineyards, so adults can sample wine. Go to for more information.

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