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North Carolina Humanities Selects Two Books for the 2024 National Book Festival

Bountiful Red Acres and Those We Thought We Knew Book Covers

North Carolina Humanities, home to the North Carolina Center for the Book, has selected two books to represent North Carolina at the Library of Congress National Book Festival this year: Bountiful Red Acres: Two Farms, Two Families, and a Year on the Land written by Eileen Heyes and illustrated by Dare Coulter and Those We Thought We Knew by David Joy.

Bountiful Red Acres, the book selection for young readers, and Those We Thought We Knew, the adult book selection, will be featured on the national Great Reads from Great Places reading list that is distributed by the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book during the National Book Festival. The list is composed of books and authors from each state and territory affiliate Center for the Book to showcase the rich culture and heritage of our country. Books are either written by an author from the respective state/territory or portray stories of the area. Those interested can see what other titles affiliate Centers for the Book selected this year by visiting the Library of Congress’ website.

The 2023 Library of Congress National Book Festival opens in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, August 12. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.
The 2023 Library of Congress National Book Festival. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

Bountiful Red Acres and Those We Thought We Knew examine intergenerational stories and history, and raise questions about family, friendship, racial inequalities, and building community. NC Humanities chose these books to encourage engaging, productive conversation among readers and to shed light on new perspectives about important, timely topics.

The 2024 National Book Festival will be held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 24. A selection of programs will be livestreamed online, and videos of all programs will be available shortly after the festival concludes. This year’s festival theme is “Books Build Us Up.” NC Humanities will be at the festival in Washington, D.C. to further promote these books, the resources of NC Humanities, and the important literary culture of North Carolina.

To further celebrate this year’s selections, NC Humanities is offering the following opportunities here in our home state of North Carolina:

Bountiful Red Acres – NC Humanities is providing 40 free book boxes for teachers and school librarians in North Carolina! Book boxes can be used for curriculum or afterschool/youth programs and include 20 copies of Bountiful Red Acres, bookmarks, and other surprise goodies! A Reading Response Journal, where students can record their thoughts on the book, and NC Humanities-original interactive reading comprehension materials will also be included! Please use this form to request a book box by July 19, 2024.

Those We Thought We Knew – NC Humanities will host a free, online book discussion program with author David Joy this August! He and a special guest will discuss his book, and the questions of race, gender, crime, and community the book asks. Program details will be announced later this summer at

About the Books:

Bountiful Red Acres by Eileen Heyes and illustrated by Dare Coulter

Bountiful Red Acres book cover

Suggested age range: 8-11 (Grades 3-5)

Young readers can get a taste of farm life in the North Carolina Piedmont through Bountiful Red Acres. The story chronicles a year in the lives of two neighboring families—one Black and one White—moving from season to season through the year 1900. Despite the racial inequalities built into American life by both law and custom, the Sawyers and Hauser families share an abiding friendship as they rear children, tend crops, and build community.

Author Eileen Heyes and artist Dare Coulter bring these real Surry County families to life for readers, offering a vibrant look at neighbors caring for each other as they force a living out of the red clay soil that is known today as Horne Creek Farm State Historic Site.

This book was published in association with the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission.

Those We Thought We Knew by David Joy

Those We Thought We Knew book cover

Suggested age range: 18+

Toya Gardner, a young Black artist from Atlanta, has returned to her ancestral home in the North Carolina mountains to trace her family history and complete her graduate thesis. But when she encounters a still-standing Confederate monument in the heart of town, she sets her sights on something bigger. Meanwhile, local deputies find a man sleeping in the back of a station wagon and believe him to be nothing more than some slack-jawed drifter. Yet a search of the man’s vehicle reveals that he is a high-ranking member of the Klan, and the uncovering of a notebook filled with local names threatens to turn the mountain on end. After two horrific crimes split the county apart, every soul must wrestle with deep and unspoken secrets that stretch back for generations. Those We Thought We Knew is an urgent unraveling of the dark underbelly of a community. Richly drawn and bracingly honest, it asks what happens when the people you’ve always known turn out to be monsters, what do you do when everything you ever believed crumbles away?

Families find fun and activities at the 2023 National Book Festival. Photo by Edmond Joe/Library of Congress.

About North Carolina Humanities: Through public humanities programs and grantmaking, North Carolina Humanities connects North Carolinians with cultural experiences that spur dialogue, deepen human connections, and inspire community. North Carolina Humanities is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The North Carolina Center for the Book is a collection of North Carolina Humanities’ reading and literature programs that celebrate the importance of books, reading, libraries, and North Carolina’s literary heritage. To learn more,

About the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress: The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books and reading, is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading-promotion partners, and through its Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit