2019 Reading Rock Stars Returns to the Rio Grande Valley

We’re bringing Reading Rock Stars back to the Rio Grande Valley for the eleventh year! The TBF crew, along with nine nationally recognized children’s authors and illustrators, will visit six Title I elementary schools in Mission, Edinburg, Donna, and Weslaco, Texas. After the authors present, they’ll help us hand each student their very own autographed book to take home, as well as a set of all books for the school library—a total of 3,140 books! Our 2019 Reading Rock Stars Rio Grande Valley program is made possible by our generous sponsors: H-E-B: Tournament of Champions and the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley. We’re so grateful for their support!

Get to know our 2019 Reading Rock Stars – RGV authors here, and be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to see highlights from our school visits!


Cecilia Ruiz is an illustrator and graphic designer living and working in New York. She is the author of The Book of Memory Gaps, and obtained a BFA in Graphic Design from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and a MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Cecilia is presenting A Gift from Abuela

Jennifer Torres lives with her family in California’s Central Valley, and write stories. She used to work as a newspaper reporter, writing stories about real people, whose lives told us something about our world and maybe about ourselves. Now, she writes books for young readers — books with make-believe characters whose stories, she hopes, are just as full of life and truth as the real ones.
Jennifer is presenting Flor and Miranda Steal the Show.

Jon Scieszka is an American children’s writer, best known for picture books created with the illustrator Lane Smith. He is also a nationally recognized reading advocate, and the founder of Guys Read – a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is “to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.” Scieszka was the first U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed by the Librarian of Congress for calendar years 2008 and 2009. His Time Warp Trio series, which teaches kids history, has been adapted into a television show.
Jon is presenting Math Curse.

Julissa Arce is a CNBC and Crooked media contributor, writer, speaker, and social justice advocate. She is the cofounder and chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program that assists immigrant students, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, or national origin. Julissa is also a board member for the National Immigration Law Center and for College Spring. Prior to becoming an advocate, she built a successful career on Wall Street, working at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.
Julissa is presenting Someone Like Me.

Marcus Emerson is the author of the hit Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series and the Secret Agent 6th Grader series. His career started in 2nd grade when he discovered Garfield. He grew up playing Super Mario Bros. 4, watching Thundercats, and reading comics like X-Men, Superman, and Wildcats. He lives in Eldridge, Iowa with his wife and children.
Marcus is presenting Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid.

Peter H. Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of many books for children, including The Dot, Ish, and Happy Dreamer. His books have been translated into over twenty-five languages around the globe and are celebrated worldwide. In 1996, he founded FableVision with his brother, Paul, as a social change agency to help create “stories that matter, stories that move.” He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his family. www.peterhreynolds.com
Peter is presenting Say Something.

Rafael López uses his hands and imagination to create award-winning children’s books and murals around the world. He has been awarded the Pura Belpré medal from the American Library Association two times, for Drum Dream Girl and Book Fiesta. Born and raised in Mexico City to architect parents, Rafael grew up immersed in the rich visual heritage, vivid color, music, and surrealism of his native culture. He enjoys working hand in hand with children, librarians, and teachers to paint community-based murals in neighborhoods. Rafael divides his time and collects ideas in his studios in colonial San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and downtown San Diego, California, where he lives with his wife and son. Visit Rafael López at rafaellopez.com.
Rafael is presenting We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands.

Steven Weinberg loves to draw and write. He is the author and illustrator of Fred and the Lumberjack, Rex Finds an Egg! Egg! Egg!, You Must Be This Tall, and the illustrator of Beard Boy. He lives in the Catskills, where this book takes place. Steven’s books have been called “thrillingly shameless” by the NY Times, “guaranteed to fuel read-aloud energy” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “the best thing to ever happen to me”, by one very sweet first grader in Washington, DC. Steven lives with his wife Casey Scieszka, his dog Waldo, and bed and bar called the Spruceton Inn that they run together in the backyard. Learn more at StevenWeinbergStudio.com.
Steven is presenting You Must Be This Tall!

Tony Piedra has been searching for adventure since he could hold a crayon. He has swum with sharks, met wild bears, and sailed to the moon (all without letting go of that same crayon). In between these adventures, he worked at Pixar Animation Studios building 3D worlds for movies like Coco, Up, and Inside Out. The Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) awarded him a Portfolio Showcase Honor in 2014. He lives with his family in Los Angeles. Visit him online at tonypiedrastudio.com.
Tony is presenting The Greatest Adventure.