A Day in the Life of a TBF Intern

Written by Brittany Wagner 

There are a lot of reasons why I enjoyed spending my fall semester interning at the Texas Book Festival. Besides all the free books I got to take home (including Malcolm Gladwell’s newest, Talking to Strangers), I learned the ins and outs of a nonprofit operation. I was amazed to come into the office on my first day and learn that a group of fewer than 10 very hardworking women was at the helm of such a huge, iconic event. The office got a little hectic as Festival weekend started to approach, but being part of a team of women who pulled off an event all about books and the people who love to read them was a rewarding experience that came with a learning curve. 

As a development intern, I spent most of my time entering information about auction items into an online database, which made it easier for the First Edition Literary Gala attendees to eventually bid on these items at the Oct. 24 gala. I also kept track of donations, thank you letters, and Friends Passes sent to those donors. 

Nonprofit employees learn to wear a number of different hats. If this was true for me as an intern, then it was doubly true for the rest of the staff. As a journalism student at UT Austin, I have a lot of writing and editing experience, which came in handy when updating TBF’s website and developing social media content. What I wasn’t familiar with was interacting with literary elites like Stephen Harrigan, Attica Locke, and Lara Prescott. 

Two of the most glamorous TBF events I got to help with were the author lineup reveal party and the Literary Gala. After I checked the guests in at the author lineup reveal party, I got to hang out in the house’s cozy library where we were displaying books written by Festival authors. My official job was to make sure none of the guests walked off with a book thinking they were giveaways, but unofficially, I got to chat with some of the most interesting, well-connected literary professionals in Austin. I met designer DJ Stout, the former art director for Texas Monthly and current head of Pentagram who now designs book covers for a living. We chatted about what makes a good book cover, and I got to ask him questions about the logistics of collaborating with an author and publisher on cover designs. 

As I was packing books up at the end of the party, I overheard a guest, Rebekah Manley, talking about her job at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. I hopped into her conversation and mentioned my interest in archives, and she gave me her business card. I ran into her at TBF events two more times during my internship before I finally got the courage to follow her on Twitter. 

About a month later, TBF hosted its First Edition Literary Gala Friday evening before the Festival’s kickoff. The purpose of the gala is to raise money for the Reading Rock Stars program and the library grants program, as well as keep the Festival free and open to the public. This was the culmination of much of the work I’d been doing, so it was exciting to see all the components come together. It was equally exciting to see literary superstar Stephen Harrigan and Austin mayor Steve Adler there. That night, TBF raised more money than at any previous gala. 

A lot of my job as an intern is performing menial tasks like going to the post office, picking up lunch for the staff, printing out thank you letters, and greeting guests at the gala. But it’s balanced by the fact that this organization is doing incredible work for the literary community of Texas. Working at TBF has reignited my love for reading and deepened my interest in working at a publishing house or library.

Tell us about your Festival experience!

Booklovers! We are so grateful to you for making this year’s Festival one of the best yet. With plenty of sunshine, engaging conversations, and a buzzing Congress Avenue, the 2019 Texas Book Festival was a success. We could not do any of this without you!

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this year’s Festival. What did you think about our lineup and activities? Where did you spend most of your time? What was your experience like?

Take our survey here for a chance to win the above grab bag, which includes a #TXBOOKFEST tote, a Festival pencil bag, and seven books from this year’s amazing authors, including Stephen Harrigan, Merrit Tierce, and Rodrigo Márquez Tizano. We want to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience at TBF, so your feedback will help us plan an even better Fest next year.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Reading Rock Stars Austin 2019

Reading Rock Stars is headed back to Austin on Friday, October 25! This year, Texas Book Festival will serve seven Austin elementary schools with Reading Rock Stars presentations that bring books to life for children in low-income schools by inviting authors and illustrators into classrooms with entertaining presentations that inspire students to read, write, and create. Reading Rock Stars Austin will feature 23 participating authors and illustrators, all of whom are taking part in the 2019 Festival Weekend, and donate more than 4,685 books to students

With this latest round of Reading Rock Stars, the Texas Book Festival will have coordinated 494 author visits and provided nearly 111,000 books to students in Title I schools across Texas since its inception.

If your school isn’t part of the Reading Rock Stars program, you can still check out all of these authors and their free events throughout the Festival Weekend!

2019 Reading Rock Stars Austin Authors


Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 28 books, including Rebound, the follow-up to his Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. Some of his other works include Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, The Playbook: 52 Rules to Help You Aim, Shoot, and Score in this Game of Life, Swing, and the picture books, Out of Wonder and The Undefeated. A regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The NCTE/Charlotte Huck Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award.

Tom Angleberger is the New York Times bestselling author of the Origami Yoda series as well as many other books for kids. He lives with his family in Virginia.


Jared Chapman is the author-illustrator of the bestselling Vegetables in Underwear as well as Fruits in Suits and Pirate, Viking & Scientist. He lives in Texas.

Tania de Regil studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design in New York City before moving back to her native Mexico City, where she finished her degree. A New Home is her American publishing debut. She lives in Mexico City and travels to the United States frequently.

Julie Fogliano is an author of bestselling children’s books, including A House That Once Was, illustrated by Lane Smith, When Green Becomes Tomatoes, illustrated by Julie Morstad, and And Then It’s Spring and If You Want to See a Whale, both illustrated by Erin E. Stead. She lives in the Hudson Valley in New York.

Andy Griffiths is the bestselling author of the Treehouse series, Killer Koalas From Outer Space, The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow, The Cat on the Mat Is Flat, and The Day My Butt Went Psycho! is at his best in these wild storytelling adventures, perfect for readers of all ages.

Megan Lacera grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, with a book always in her hands. She became a writer and creator of characters and worlds for entertainment companies, and later formed her own creative company with husband Jorge Lacera. After reading many stories to their son, Megan realized that very few books reflected a family like theirs—multicultural, bilingual, funny, and imperfect. She decided to change that by writing her own stories. This is Megan’s original picture book debut. You can learn more about Megan and Studio Lacera at studiolacera.com.

Jorge Lacera was born in Colombia, and grew up in Miami, Florida, drawing in sketchbooks, on napkins, on walls, and anywhere his parents would let him. After graduating with honors from Ringling College of Art and Design, Jorge worked as a visual development and concept artist. As a big fan of pop culture, comics, and zombie movies, Jorge rarely saw Latino kids as the heroes or leads. He is committed to changing that, especially now that he has a son. The family lives in Cypress, Texas. You can find him online at studiolacera.com.

René Colato Laínez came to the United States from El Salvador as a teen, and he writes about his experiences in bilingual children’s books such as “Waiting for Papá / Esperando a Papá” (Piñata Books, 2004), “I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño” (2005), “René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos” (2009) and “My Shoes and I / Mis zapatos y yo” (Piñata Books, 2019). His other books include “Mamá the Alien / Mamá la extraterrestre” (Lee & Low Books, 2016), “The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez” (Tricycle Press, 2010), “From North to South / Del norte al sur” (Children’s Book Press, 2010) and “Playing Lotería / El juego de la lotería” (Luna Rising, 2005). A graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults, René is a bilingual elementary teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Kelly Starling Lyons is the author of the picture books Hope’s GiftTea Cakes for Tosh, and Ellen’s Broom, as well as the Jada Jones chapter book series. Her articles and essays have appeared in many publications, including Ebony magazine, the News & Observer, the Christian Science Monitor, and books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter and son.

Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the illustrator of Smick! by Doreen Cronin and Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma by Keith Calabrese. Juana Medina is also the author-illustrator of 1 Big Salad, Sweet Shapes, and Juana & Lucas, which won the 2017 Pura Belpré Author Award. She currently lives with her family in Mexico.

Meg Medina is the author of the Newbery Medal–winning book Merci Suárez Changes Gears, which was also a 2018 Kirkus Prize finalist. Her young adult novels include Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, which won the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award; Burn Baby Burn, which was long-listed for the National Book Award; and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. She is also the author of picture books Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, which was a Pura Belpré Author Award Honor Book, and Tía Isa Wants a Car, illustrated by Claudio Muñoz, which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Ibtihaj Muhammad is a fencer and the first Muslim American woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympic Games. She is also the first female Muslim American to medal at the Olympic Games, winning bronze in the women’s saber team event. An activist, speaker, and entrepreneur, Ibtihaj has written a memoir, Proud, and inspired the first hijabi Barbie in her likeness.

Maulik Pancholy is an award-winning actor whose television work includes 30 Rock, WhitneyWeb TherapyElementaryFriends from CollegeThe Good WifeThe ComebackThe SopranosLaw & Order: Criminal Intent, and more. He is also the voice of Baljeet on the Emmy Award–winning animated series Phineas and Ferb and of Sanjay on Sanjay and Craig. Maulik is the recipient of an Asian American Arts Alliance Award and the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award. In 2014, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. While at the White House, he helped launch an anti-bullying campaign called Act to Change, which he continues to lead today. Maulik lives with his husband in Brooklyn, NY. This is his debut novel.

Isabel Quintero was born and raised by Mexican immigrant parents in Southern California’s Inland Empire. She earned her BA in English and her MA in English Composition at California State University, San Bernardino. Her debut YA novel, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, won the 2015 Morris Award for Debut YA Fiction and the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award.

Christian Robinson Christian Robinson is an acclaimed illustrator of children’s books, including Gaston by Kelly di Puchhio and the New York Times bestseller Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, which won the Newbery Medal as well as a Caldecott Honor. He also illustrated School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, recipient of seven starred reviews and a New York Times Bestseller. He has collaborated with Julie Fogliano on When’s My Birthday? Which received five starred reviews and was named a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book.

Jon Scieszka is best known for his bestselling picture books, including The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! and The Stinky Cheese Man. He is also the founder of guysread.com and a champion force behind guyslisten.com, and was the first National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature. He lives in Brooklyn.

Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books as well as poems for children. Her debut nonfiction picture book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge, 2018), won a Sibert Honor, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Picture Book Honor and an Orbis Pictus Honor. It also received starred reviews from Kirkus ReviewsSchool Library JournalThe Horn Book and Shelf Awareness. A former federal Indian law attorney and policy advocate, she is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma where her tribe is located. For more about Traci and her other works, visit www.tracisorell.com.

Raina Telgemeier is the #1 New York Times bestselling, multiple Eisner Award-winning creator of Smile and Sisters, which are both graphic memoirs based on her childhood. She is also the creator of Drama and Ghosts, and is the adapter and illustrator of four Baby-sitters Club graphic novels. Raina lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more, visit her online at goRaina.com.

Raúl the Third is the Pura Belpré Award-winning illustrator of the Lowriders in Space series by Cathy Camper. He is currently working on a YA graphic novel with David Bowles. He grew up between El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, México and now lives in Boston, MA with colorist Elaine Bay.

Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende. His books have received many awards over the years. He currently lives in San Miguel with his wife and children but travels to the US often.

Steven Weinberg writes and illustrates kids’ books about dinosaurs, roller coasters, beards, and chainsaws. He lives in the Catskills in New York.



Help us bring more books and authors to young readers in Texas.

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Latinx Lit at Texas Book Fest

Photo credit: Kirsten Kaiser/Giant Noise


Leer en Español

This year’s Texas Book Festival welcomes more than 70 Latinx authors and moderators to downtown Austin October 26-27 for two days of conversations and panels about Latinx literature, life, and culture, all free and open to the public.

Established in 2015, the Texas Book Festival’s Latinx Lit Tent returns for its fifth year, with sessions about writing and publishing in Spanish, inventive new fiction, bilingual storytimes, a celebration of the winners of the Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Book Award, and more. Sessions in our Latinx Lit Tent were curated by the Texas Book Festival’s Latinx Author Selection and Programming Committee. The full schedule will be announced the week of October 1.

For the first time this year, the Festival will feature the Libros en Español Tent, a book sales tent next to the Latinx Lit Tent dedicated to Spanish-language books for adults and children, curated by BookPeople and Vintage Español. In addition to Spanish-language books by Festival authors, the tent will offer a general selection of Spanish-language titles by other authors. Next to the Libros en Español Tent, festival goers will also be able to browse Spanish-language children’s books made available by Cuentology, an Austin-based children’s bookseller specializing in Spanish-language children’s books.

We’re also excited to welcome Univison to the Festival this year. Visit their outpost at Congress and 8th Street!

Before the Fest, join the TBF Spanish-language Facebook group where you can share what you’re reading and which authors you’re looking forward to seeing at the 2019 Texas Book Festival!

Latinx Lit Tent

2015 Texas Book Festival Saturday October 17th

Dedicated to bilingual programming about Latinx life and culture, our tent features new and established Latinx authors who write books for a variety of ages. With sessions ranging from a bilingual story time for our younger readers to serious conversations about fighting adversity, the border crisis, and publishing in Spanish, the conversations celebrate and explore Latinx identity in Texas and beyond. Featured authors include Zulema Arroyo Farley, Rodrigo Marquez Tizano, Jennine Capó Crucet, J.J. Mulligan Sepúlveda, and ire’ne lara silva.

Latinx Authors At the Fest

We’ll welcome more than 60 Latinx authors to the Festival, with books in a variety of genres. Authors include crime fiction writers Alex Segura, Gabino Iglesias and Gwendolyn Zepeda; history writers Monica Muñoz Martinez, Marie Arana, and Cynthia Ontiveros; novelists Norma Elia Cantú, Oscar Cásares, Stephanie Jimenez, Melissa Rivero, Carolina De Robertis, and Angie Cruz; memoirists Jaquira Díaz, Claudia Hernandez, and Aarón Sánchez; poets Javier Zamora, Orlando Ricardo Menes, and Vanessa Angélica Villareal; childrens’ and YA authors Sonia SotomayorJuana MedinaDuncan TonatiuhMeg Medina, and Lilliam Rivera. 

To see all Latinx authors presenting at this year’s Festival, see our full Author Lineup.

Libros en Español

The Texas Book Festival on Saturday, October 17, 2015.

In addition to Book People’s Festival sales tent, the Libros en Español tent will exclusively sell Spanish-language. Titles will include books written by Festival authors, as well as general interest titles. The selection is curated in partnership with Vintage Español. Right next to that you’ll find Cuentology, an Austin-based bookseller dedicated to providing Texas children with quality literature from Spain and Latin America.


While you’re at the Fest, make sure to check out Univision. Univision provides more Spanish-language television programming than any other network in the United States, and we’re excited to have them in join us for the weekend!

Nuestros Libros, Nuestra Voz

Nuestros Libros, Nuestra Voz is a new Facebook page for bilingual and Spanish-speaking members of the TBF community. If you want to stay in touch with those that you’ve met at Festivals past, ask questions about this year’s Festival, or share your favorite authors or current reads, this is the place to do it!

*Please note that this is a closed group. This link allows you to request permission to join. We ask that conversation remains respectful and book-focused. Advertisements will be removed, as will any content deemed disrespectful by our moderators.

Thank you to all of our partners, and especially Texas Book Festival’s Latinx Author Selection and Programming Committee, for bringing so many terrific authors, books, and conversations to this year’s Festival!