Home : Events : Margaret Wise Brown Festival

Jeff Hodges
Director of Public Relations
Hollins University
P.O. Box 9657
Roanoke, VA 24020-1657
(540) 362-6503
Fax: (540) 362-6500

Office location:
Cocke Memorial Building, Third Floor

Brittany Foutz
Special Programs Coordinator
(540) 362-6021

Office location:
Bradley Hall


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Margaret Wise Brown Festival Chair Brenda McDaniel discusses the year-long festival with Round Roanoke's Kianna Price Wade »

Schedule/Events | Story Hours | About Margaret Wise Brown | Thanks to Our Partners

Margaret Wise Brown Festival

Among Hollins’ many celebrated authors, probably the most widely read is Margaret Wise Brown, a member of the class of 1932, who wrote hundreds of children’s books and stories during her brief life (she died in 1952 at age 42) but is best known for a handful of classics, including The Runaway Bunny (1942) and Goodnight Moon (1947).

About the Margaret Wise Brown Festival

Beginning June 2011, Hollins is celebrating the life and work of Margaret Wise Brown with a yearlong festival of events that are open to the public and family-friendly.


  • A series of Saturday Morning Story Hours with local celebrities reading Brown's classics, concluding with milk and cookies and an opportunity for kids to have their photo taken reading a Margaret Wise Brown book for their own READ poster.
  • The Hollins University Concert Choir and the Valley Chamber Orchestra present the classical lullaby Goodnight Moon, along with some of Brown's autumn-themed books, at a musical story hour.
  • Stage production of the musical Goodnight Moon at the Hollins Theatre – watch bunny’s "great green room" come alive in this gentle and playful musical.
  • Musicians from the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra – and a surprise narrator – will take you on a musical journey of The Runaway Bunny in this family concert at the Taubman Museum, in the style of "Peter and the Wolf."
  • Hollins’ Eleanor D. Wilson Museum presents the exhibition Goodnight, Hush: Classic Children’s Book Illustrations. The two-part exhibition, spanning the summers of 2011 and 2012, showcases original illustrations from The Runaway Bunny paired with artwork from contemporary children’s books, and original illustrations from Goodnight Moon.

The festival’s start date coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Children’s Literature graduate program at Hollins, the 2011 conference of the Children’s Literature Association being held on the Hollins campus June 23-25, and the opening of Goodnight, Hush in the Wilson Museum. Thacher Hurd, son of Clement Hurd and one of the exhibiting artists, author and illustrator of children’s books in his own right, read to children on Saturday morning, June 25, and gave a lecture on the museum exhibit that afternoon.

The festival will culminate at Hollins’ Alumnae Reunion 2012 marking the 80th anniversary of Brown’s graduation from Hollins and the 60th anniversary of her death.

Hollins’ association with Margaret Wise Brown has grown over the years since her sister, Roberta Rauch, made a provision in her will to give Hollins the rights and royalties to a number of Brown’s books (see below) in memory of Brown and their mother, Maude Johnson Brown, also a Hollins alumna, class of 1902.

Festival Events

All festival events are open to the public, family friendly, and have no charge to attend, unless otherwise indicated. Visit the schedule page for new events and updates throughout the year.

Story Hours

Visit the schedule page for Story Hour events.


Read poster Kids, bring your parents to the Hollins campus for a series of Saturday Morning Story Hours. Local celebrities will read such classics as Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Big Red Barn, The Little Island, Baby Animals, and more.

Each story hour will conclude with milk and cookies and an opportunity to have your photograph taken reading a Margaret Wise Brown book for your very own READ poster and a photo gallery on the festival’s Facebook page. Hollins will supply a photographer for the READ posters and will e-mail you your poster image.

About Margaret Wise Brown

Official Margaret Wise Brown web site »


mwb alumnae magazinze

Writing for Children (PDF), by Margaret Wise Brown, Hollins alumnae magazine 1949.

  • In her own words, Brown describes her journey into the "unexplored field" of "very young picture books for children under five." In this alumnae magazine article Brown mentions Miss Susie Blair, a drama teacher at Hollins in the 1920s and 30s, and Dr. F. Lamar Janney, professor of English at Hollins from 1918-1953.
Margaret Wise Brown

"Discovering the unexpected: the Margaret Wise Brown collection at Wyndham Robertson Library, Hollins University."

  • In this Virginia Libraries journal article on the Margaret Wise Brown collection in the Hollins Archives, Special Collections and Government Information Librarian Beth Harris describes the enjoyment of working with a varied collection of manuscripts, letters and other papers from the famous Hollins alumna, who, as Brown biographer Leonard Marcus puts it, "broke the mold of what was being written for children in the 1930s and 1940s."


Did You Know?
  • Over the past 60 years, Goodnight Moon has become the quintessential bedtime story, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide.
  • Goodnight Moon has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, and Hmong.
  • The New York Public Library named Goodnight Moon one of its "books of the century" in 1996.
  • Brown was one of the first authors to write specifically for children aged two to five.
  • Brown developed the concept of the first durable board book – a staple of children’s books today.


Brownie’s Secret Trunk

What follows is one of those incredible tales of Hollins connections that span generations and geography.

Read more (PDF) »


Hollins Inherits Royalties

In addition to a number of never published manuscripts, Margaret Wise Brown’s sister gave the rights and royalties to a number of Brown’s published titles to Hollins in her will. When you purchase one of these books, you benefit Hollins.

List of books (PDF) »

Thanks to our Partners

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum
Wyndham Robertson Library
Taubman Museum of Art Roanoke Symphony
Eleanor D. Wilson Museum Wyndham Robertson Library Taubman Museum of Art Roanoke Symphony