Final Draft

The ninth annual Texas Teen Book Festival at St. Edward’s University featured a diverse cast of authors and interactive workshops for visiting teens.

Over 40 authors made appearances for the event Oct. 7, including Marie Lu and Jason Reynolds as keynote speakers and Lizzie Velásquez as a special guest.

“We believe in the power of reading to change lives,” said Lois Kim, executive director of the festival.

In an attempt to foster change in the books teens read, We Need Diverse Books, a grassroots organization founded to combat the lack of diversity in literature, partnered with the festival for the first time. The author lineup reflected this push for diversity. The inclusion Adi Alsaid, author of “North of Happy,” Aditi Khorana, author of “The Library of Fates,” and Cindy Pom, author of “Want,” allowed teens to see authors of their own ethnicity in a field that is predominately white.

We Need Diverse Books just released an app that would allow readers to enter search criteria regarding the author or protagonist’s ethnicity or gender.

Author I.W. Gregorio, a team member of We Need Diverse Books, said that one of the biggest challenges when it comes to diverse literature is finding it. Through this app, she hopes that young readers will be able to find books with characters that they can identify with. The app is free and easy to download on a smartphone or tablet.

“Many teens have trouble finding an authors of color when looking for a book to read. This new app is a tool for discovery,” said Gregorio.

An Austin-based free creative writing program called Barrio Writers held a writing workshop. Nancy Huang, a former member of the group and now author of her own collection of published poems, made an appearance at the workshop.

“We hope to empower youth voices,” said Leticia Urieta, the Barrio Writers’ Program director in Austin.

The Barrio Writers booth was set up in the Alumni Gym parking lot at St. Edward’s University, along with the many other organizations.

Sara Ortiz, a former St. Edward’s alumna working with the Texas Library Association, handed out reading lists and advice to anyone who stopped by.

“Reading gives you the skills you need to talk to anyone,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz invited teenages to take part in the 90-Second Newbery contest. In this contest, participants create a 90-second film that dramatically recreates their favorite Newbery book. This contest combines traditional reading with technology in an age where more and more books can be read digitally. The contest closes on Jan. 12, 2018, so she encouraged teens to start brainstorming soon.

Part of the festival took place outdoors, and while it began early, the temperature quickly rose. Despite this, readers were all too happy to stand in the partially shaded tent, waiting for their favorite authors to sign their books.

“We had to get up at 7am to get here in time,” said Elena, a sophomore from Roosvele High School in San Antonio.

She and fellow sophomore Elisa traveled with family to attend the event after their school cancelled its planned trip to the festival. Both agreed that it was worth the drive, however.

Inside the Alumni Gym, more booths were assembled and in the back stood tables of books for festival-goers purchase. Teenagers could bring up to three of their own books or buy books at the school to have signed by the visiting authors.

Booths for monthly subscription boxes like Nerdy Post, BookBeau, and The Bookish Box all lined the gym, while other booths offered free swag and raffles to fill the time between panels.

There was a wide selection of author panels. Smart is the New Black, Me + You = Fate, Ties that Bind, Where I Belong: Stories of Immigration, Resilience, and Hope, To Thine Own Self Be True, Fierce Reads, It’s All In the Twist: Of Myth and Mystery, Secrets, and Truth, and It’s Time to Save the World…Again all focused on particular areas in teen popular literature.

Outside the Recreation and Convocation Center, the iTent popped up for the first time in Texas Teen Book Festival history. Short for Interactive Tent, this was an area where visitors could speak with authors in an informal conversation called an AMA, also known as an ask me anything. Here, authors would pop in and out throughout the day to visit with fans and talk about their writing. Also at the iTent were informational sessions on Zine Making and a session on Book Talks.

Educators were not left out at the event either. A book club discussion was held by Adi Alsaid to help find ways to encourage young readers in school.

The sister festival to the Texas Teen Book Festival, the Texas Book Festival, will take place on Nov. 4 and 5 at the State Capitol and on the surrounding grounds.


First Draft

St. Edward’s University hosted the Texas Teen Book Festival Oct. 7 from 8:00am to 6:30pm. Over 40 authors appeared, with Marie Lu and Jason Reynolds acting as keynote speakers and Lizzie Velásquez as a special guest. The event is held annually to inspire young readers to continue reading.

“We believe in the power of reading to change lives,” said Lois Kim, Executive Director of the festival.

In an attempt to change the lives of young readers, We Need Diverse Books, a grassroots organization founded to combat the lack of diversity in literature, partnered with the festival for the first time. The author lineup reflected this push for diversity. Many authors from minority ethnicities, sexualities, and genders made appearances at the book signings that occurred throughout the day.

We Need Diverse Books just released an app that would allow readers to enter search criteria regarding the author or protagonist’s ethnicity or gender.

Author I.W. Gregorio, team member of We Need Diverse Books, said that one of the biggest challenges when it comes to diverse literature is finding it. Through this app, she hopes that young readers will be able to find books with characters that they can identify with. The app is free and easily downloaded on a smartphone or tablet.

An Austin-based free creative writing program called Barrio Writers held a writing workshop at the festival. Nancy Huang, a former member of the group and now author of her own collection of published poems, made an appearance at the workshop to help attendees on their work.

“We hope to empower youth voices,” said Leticia Urieta, the Barrio Writers’ Program Director in Austin.

The Barrio Writers booth was set up in the Alumni Gym parking lot at St. Edward’s University, along with the many other organizations that made appearances.

Sara Ortiz, a former St. Edward’s alumni working with the Texas Library Association, handed out reading lists and advice to anyone who stopped by.

“Reading gives you the skills you need to talk to anyone,” said Ortiz while she shaded her face from the sun.

Part of the festival took place outdoors, and while it began early, the temperature quickly rose. Despite this, readers were all too happy to stand in the partially shaded tent, waiting for their favorite authors to sign their books.

“We had to get up at 7:00am to get here in time,” said Elena, a sophomore from Roosvele High School in San Antonio.

She and fellow sophomore Elisa traveled with their father to attend the event after their school cancelled on them. Both agreed that it was worth the drive, however.

Ortiz invited teenages to take part in the 90-Second Newbery contest. In this contest, participants create a 90 second film that dramatically recreates their favorite Newbery book. This contest combines traditional reading with technology in an age where more and more books can be read digitally. The contest closes on Jan. 12, 2018, so she encouraged teens to start brainstorming soon.

Inside the Alumni Gym, more booths were assembled and in the back stood tables of books for festival-goers purchase. Teenagers could bring up to three of their own books or buy books at the school to have signed by the visiting authors.

Booths for monthly subscription boxes like Nerdy Post, BookBeau, and The Bookish Box all lined the gym, while other booths offered free swag and raffles to fill the time between panels.

A wide selection of author panels were offered at the festival. Smart is the New Black, Me + You = Fate, Ties that Bind, Where I Belong: Stories of Immigration, Resilience, and Hope, To Thine Own Self Be True, Fierce Reads, It’s All In the Twist: Of Myth and Mystery, Secrets, and Truth, and It’s Time to Save the World…Again all focused on particular areas in teen popular literature.

Outside the Recreation and Convocation Center, the iTent popped up for the first time in Texas Teen Book Festival history. Short for Interactive Tent, this was an area where visitors could speak with authors in an informal conversation called an AMA, also known as an ask me anything. Here, authors would pop in and out throughout the day to visit with fans and talk about their writing. Also at the iTent were informational sessions on Zine Making and a session on Book Talks.

Educators were not left out at the event either. A book club discussion was held by Adi Alsaid to help find ways to encourage young readers in school.

According to the festival’s website, over 4,000 people were expected to attend, making this one of the biggest festivals yet.

The sister festival to the Texas Teen Book Festival, the Texas Book Festival, will take place on Nov. 4 and 5 at the State Capitol and on surrounding grounds.