Thank you, Reading Rock Stars Houston!

We feel extra fortunate for the opportunity to have virtually visited elementary schools in Houston for our Reading Rock Stars program last week. Houston is our last rock star stop for the 2020-21 school year and we want to thank librarians and library specialists in Aldine ISD and Houston ISD for their leadership and kind collaboration. Thank you for making us feel like part of your community.

Thank you, authors and illustrators, for participating in multiple programs this school year: Chris Barton, Shanda McCloskey, Anika Fajardo, David Bowles, Raúl The Third, Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña, Kelly Starling Lyons, Christina Soontornvat, and Lee Bryd! This has been a wonderful experience for our Reading Rock Stars across Texas. We also want to welcome El’s Mirror by Ellison and Bavu Blakes to our Reading Rock Stars family!  You filled our Reading Rock Stars with aspirations and encouraged them to continue to grow their creativity and craft. We will not forget that you acknowledged their voices, brilliance, and all-around amazingness.

Thank you to all our generous sponsors, including, H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Texas Cultural Trust, and Albert & Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation.


¡Gracias, Reading Rock Stars Rio Grande Valley!

¡Mil gracias, Rio Grande Valley! We feel very lucky for the opportunity to have virtually visited elementary schools in Mission, Edinburg, Pharr, and Weslaco in our beautiful Rio Grande Valley for our Reading Rock Stars program last week. Students got to meet authors and illustrators: Rebecca Gomez, Elisa Chavarri, Michael Genhart, David Bowles, Raúl The Third, Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña, Jon Scieszka, and Steven Weinberg.

We would like to first thank our librarians at elementary schools: Hurla Midkiff, Bryan, Guillermo Flores, E.B. Guerra, César Chávez, and Dr. R.E. Margo. Despite the many challenges of this school year, librarians invited us back on campus with open arms and led the way in bringing a virtual and engaging Reading Rock Stars program to their students. ¡Gracias!

Thank you to all of our authors and illustrators for highlighting the community cultural wealth of South Texas and its bilingual and bicultural excellence. We loved going to the market with Federico, listening to accordion music with Abuelo and Opa, experiencing Mayan Mexico with Sayam, joining Lupe and friends on a lowrider adventure, cruising on a motorcycle with Daisy Ramona, and especially traveling to outer space with the Astro-nuts. Your love for reading and illustration shined over our reading rock stars!

Thank you to all our generous sponsors, including UT Rio Grande Valley, H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Texas Cultural Trust, and Fox Pest Control. Our Reading Rock Stars program in the Rio Grande Valley is definitely a yearly highlight and we truly hope to return in person in 2022. Stop by the Reading Rock Stars resource center for fun educational activities!


Congrats to our 2020 Texas Library Grant recipients!

The Texas Book Festival is proud to announce the 2020 Texas Library Grant recipients. We are especially appreciative of the hard work of library directors and staff for adapting to our new timeline and submission guidelines—thank you! We also want to extend our gratitude to our Board members for joining us during the review process and to the Texas Library Association for supporting our efforts to grow equity for libraries and communities across Texas.

The Texas Book Festival is also excited to welcome and highlight new grant recipients working to serve their communities as they navigate and persist through the current COVID-19 crisis.

North Richland Hills Public Library
This library serves Tarrant County and will be using the Texas Library Grant to prepare for re-opening by increasing their community recovery resources. They’ve examined their community needs carefully and will be increasing their emotional support resources with hopes that patrons do not only seek employment-related information but are also able to safeguard health, respite, and well-being at their community library.

Riter C. Hulsey Public Library
Hulsey Public Library will update their youth collection in order to better support children and teens as they begin their 2020-21 school year from home. Their new collection will also include resources for teachers and school leaders. This library often serves Terrell ISD students as their primary library and they feel committed to supplementing the educational experience of all youth in the community.

Nicholas P. Sims Library
This Waxahachie library didn’t forget about one of their most vulnerable populations, homebound patrons. Their Homebound program serves six nursing homes as well as other medically fragile community members. They will be using the Texas Library Grant to increase their large print and audiobook collection plus create access for more patrons as many opt to stay home to ensure their family’s well-being.

Laguna Vista Public Library
Laguna Vista Public Library gives us a snapshot of the hard work happening across Texas to continue to support patrons of all ages during a global health crisis. This library serves the entire Laguna Madre region which includes: South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Laguna Heights, Laguna Vista, Bayview, and Cameron County. They will be using this grant to update their collection overall and better serve a changing demographic. Once home to mostly Winter Texans, this South Texas region is now a permanent residence for many young families and Laguna Vista Public Library is getting ready to serve its community in a very different way this fall 2020.

Congratulations to all 42 Texas Library Grant recipients! Since 1996, the organization has funded 1,211 grants totaling more than $3 million to 600+ libraries in every corner of the state. We feel lucky to do this work and look forward to supporting many more libraries in the future.

2020 Texas Library Grant Recipients

  • North Richland Hills Public Library
  • Riter C. Hulsey Public Library
  • Hewitt Public Library
  • Joe Barnhart Bee County Library
  • Nicholas P. Sims Library
  • Eastland Centennial Library
  • Hurst Public Library
  • Mitchell County Public Library
  • Nancy Carol Robertson Memorial Library
  • Nicholson Memorial Library
  • Howard County Library
  • Plano Public Library
  • Elgin Public Library
  • Jarrell Community Library
  • Laguna Vista Public Library
  • Nueces County Public Library
  • Round Rock Public Library
  • Azle Memorial Library
  • Corsicana Public Library
  • Nesbitt Memorial Library
  • Pflugerville Public Library
  • Schulenburg Public Library
  • Alpine Public Library
  • Henderson County Library
  • Whitehouse Community Library
  • Arlington Public Library
  • Dickinson Public Library
  • Cleburne Public Library
  • Cozby Library and Community Commons
  • Jennie Trent Dew Library
  • Bandera County Public Library
  • Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library
  • Mesquite Public Library
  • Emily Fowler Library
  • Hillsboro City Library
  • Mason County M. Beven Eckert Memorial Library
  • Blanco County Library
  • Jackson County Memorial Library
  • Haltom City Public Library
  • J.R. Huffman Public Library
  • Sherman Public Library
  • Little Elm Public Library

Reading recommendations for kids and teens to continue summer learning

Here’s a new reading list choice board with engaging resources to explore during the next few weeks of summer. Whether you are staying indoors to get relief from the heat or you’ve started to prepare for next school year, this choice board has a great mix of reading recommendations for our children and teens. I’ve included great resources that are often easily missed like Read Across Texas, Colorín Colorado, Texas Library Association, and the Children’s Book Council. I also feel so happy to promote resources like Mighty Girl and Book it! Mighty Girl shared 30 books for girls who love the outdoors and Book It! has a great selection of printables and resources for parents and caretakers.


If you are interested in preparing for next school year, this board has reading lists from the Texas Education Agency or you can also grow critical thinking skills by doing a deep dive into the books suggested by Kirkus around topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Book review is also a great skill to learn! Don’t forget to keep visiting your local libraries or venture out [virtually] to a big city like New York to see the books on their reading lists. I know this has been a long and difficult summer for many of us, but I feel hopeful that a great book can keep our children and teens engaged and happy in the weeks ahead.

Click here to download the choice board.

Keep your kids inspired with our Summer Reading Choice Board

Summer is just around the corner and we are happy to share a reading choice board featuring our Reading Rock Stars authors.  We’ve got great book options for your little ones who love STEM,  fine arts, or history plus fun stories with yummy recipes to try at home. We didn’t forget about the big kids. The board also has middle grade options with topics sure to spark critical thinking in your future leaders. Stay tuned for more resources throughout this summer!

Stop by our updated educational resource center!

Hi everyone! We are excited to share new educational resources with our school and community programs family through our Mary Margaret Farabee Reading Rock Stars Resource Center. This updated page now has resources for educators, librarians, and families, and make sure to check back for updated resources over the summer!

For this first round, I have shared book guides, as well as, great resources from publishers and libraries, plus a few popular stops for families like PBS Kids.  Children’s publishers have truly done an excellent job at providing distance learning resources that are fun and feasible. For example, Scholastic and Cinco Puntos Press offer unique ways to engage with children and teens both in the classroom and at home in English and Spanish. We hope that you find an activity that fits your teaching or learning style. I’m always interested in what experts like pediatricians and teachers have to say, so I’ve also included a few links for you to explore. They share great links to pre-literacy sites for those of you with babies at home. Libraries! Libraries! Libraries! Libraries provide respite and hope for all ages and this will continue to be true for centuries to come. I’ve shared a few links to libraries to encourage you to not only keep exploring the virtual resources provided by your neighborhood library but also to venture out [virtually] to see what other libraries have to offer.  

Oh! And before I forget—our Reading Rock Stars authors page is also a great resource. It has a list of authors with links to their websites, and many more cool finds for our children and teens to enjoy. Please be patient with us as we continue to update our virtual resource center, and we hope that it becomes a regular stop for your school, community, and family. 

Stay up to date with the Texas Book Festival by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so we can stay in touch!

Let’s Celebrate Día! / ¡Listos para celebrar Día!

Please join the Texas Book Festival (virtually) in celebrating the 24th anniversary of El Día de los Niños/ El Día de los Libros (Children’s Day, Book Day). This is a celebration of children, literacy, bilingualism, and diversity. As part of this nationally recognized initiative, libraries across the country join on April 30 to honor community cultural wealth through sharing a love for books and engaging in meaningful learning activities.  Book lovers refer to this event as Día which not only means day in Spanish but also stands for Diversity in Action, the initiative’s primary goal. Día also serves as an opportunity to connect families to literacy and community resources. 

We are happy to share a few links to great authors so that you can join us in celebrating Día at home this year. Here’s a Spanish/ English bilingual booklist with links to author websites,  interviews, read alouds, or publishers.

For more DÍA resources, please go to: 

2019 Texas Book Festival

¡Listos para celebrar Día!

Favor de unirse (virtualmente) con el Texas Book Festival para celebrar el aniversario 24 del Día de los Niños/ Día de los Libros. En este día no solo celebramos a nuestros niños, pero también a esfuerzos que aumentan la alfabetización, el ser bilingües, y a la diversidad cultural. Como parte de esta iniciativa que es nacionalmente reconocida, las bibliotecas atreves del país se unen para compartir su amor por los libros y participar en actividades de aprendizaje. Los amantes de los libros se refiere a esta celebración como Día pues no solamente es una manera corta de referirse a este evento, pero también porque estas siglas significan Diversity in Action en inglés. La diversidad en acción es la meta principal de esta iniciativa. Día también sirve como oportunidad para conectar a familias a recursos de alfabetización y en la comunidad. 

Con gusto compartimos enlaces para que puedan unirse a nuestra celebración de Día en sus hogares este año. Aquí tienen una lista de autores de libros bilingües (español- inglés) con enlaces a sus sitios de web, entrevistas, cuentos, o casas editoriales.

Para más recursos para celebrar DÍA, favor seguir estos enlaces:

Lucy Velez is Texas Book Festival’s Schools & Community Programs Coordinator. You can contact her here:


Using your child’s favorite book to create a great homeschooling experience

Does your child need a break from his or her virtual classroom? Or does your family prefer learning resources that engage kids in multisensory and hands-on ways? I know that my first grader doesn’t yet have the attention span to complete all of his online assignments even if there’s a pet dragon prize for him at the end. From what I’ve noticed as his mom, he often thrives when lessons are multisensory, when he gets to think in big picture ways, and is given the freedom to explore multiple routes to completing an assignment. His world doesn’t fit into a worksheet. Lucky for me, his love for books and storytelling creates many opportunities to help him grow academic skills in ways that make sense to him.  Currently, one of his favorite books is Octopus Stew by Eric Velásquez. He quickly identified with the main character, Ramsey, who also loves telling stories and whose vivid imagination has enough ingenuity to visualize a giant squid coming to life. Favorite books often facilitate bedtime routines and create much needed moments for family respite. But, they can also open a lot of opportunities for project- based learning. Here’s a list of lesson ideas to match the book, Octopus Stew:

  1. Developing composition skills by writing a story and sharing it during family story time
  2. Growing money math skills through setting up a pretend grocery store in your home
  3. Practicing fractions by using family recipes to make your favorite stew 
  4. Exploring marine life through building habitats using art, home, or backyard supplies
  5. Discussing fact vs. fiction (or the 5 Ws + H) by creating your own mythical creatures 

You can take any of the items on this list and create a project by beginning with a challenging problem or question and outlining the steps necessary to solve it. I’ve tried small daily projects but you can also design more comprehensive weekly projects.  Use your state’s curriculum standards to ensure you are targeting the appropriate level of challenge or to set objectives for multiple age groups. Let your child’s interests guide this experience, don’t forget- voice and choice are key. May the power of books be with you new-stay at home- working parents. We can do this!

You can also check out:


Reading Rock Stars Winter Wrap-Up

Texas Book Festival staff and volunteers travelled 700+ miles this winter to celebrate Reading Rock Stars Day in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Rio Grande Valley, and Houston.  We joined 30 authors as they shared their love for storytelling and illustration with over 9,000 elementary school students at 16 campuses. 

First stops- Dallas and Ft. Worth! The Reading Rock Stars DFW lineup was simply outstanding! Our readers had the opportunity to explore not only fun and engaging stories but ones that were culturally responsive and inclusive of their community wealth. We feel extra appreciative of Julissa Arce who participated in both Reading Rock Stars and Real Reads programs.  Her bold narrative, Someone Like Me, opened many opportunities for agency and dialogue for our readers. We are also grateful for Kat Zhang, Naibe Reynoso, Raquel Ortiz, Vanessa Brantley Newton, Traci Sorrell, Duncan Tonatiuh, Mac Barnett, Greg Pizzoli, and Lamar Giles for joining us on this chilly, two-city adventure.  

Next stop-the amazing Rio Grande Valley! Schools in the Rio Grande Valley are thriving and we felt extraordinarily welcomed. Authors for our RGV schools matched the region’s heart and community capital. This year’s program included many opportunities for our reading rock stars to engage in culturally meaningful stories as well as build bridges to new narratives. South Texas native, David Bowles shared his middle grade book, They Call Me Güero, winner of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, a book of poems about a 12-year-old boy growing up on the South Texas borderlands.  We greatly value all of our authors including Carolyn Dee Flores, Naibe Reynoso, Sharon Robinson, James Luna, René Colato Laínez, Bethany Hegedus, Raquel M. Ortiz, and Anna Meriano for traveling deep into south Texas and embracing the Rio Grande Valley’s amplified definition of family. 

Last stop- Houston! Serving the city with the most cultural diversity in Texas, Houston ISD supports children and teens from many ethnicities and backgrounds. Our team worked especially hard to gather a group of authors who matched the diversity of the Houston ISD community. We genuinely appreciate Houston ISD for opening its schools to us during a very busy time of the year. The authors and illustrators featured in this year’s program included Houston native Tonya Engel, a self-taught artist who illustrated Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, the story of writer and activist Maya Angelou. All of our authors: Jacqueline Alcántara, Adam Rex, Varsha Bajaj, Naibe Reynoso, Alana Mendoza Dusan, Eric Velasquez, Tonya Engel, Raquel Ortiz, James Luna, Kekla Magoon, and Anna Meriano showed great commitment to children and literacy as they traveled to Houston for a supersonic one-day visit.  

All aboard for Reading Rock Stars 2020-Austin!  We are in communication with our Austin schools and feel hopeful that we will be able to coordinate an engaging and fun experience for students at Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Austin Achieve, and Harmony Science Academy.  Please continue to support our school and community programs and don’t forget to follow us via our social media accounts to get a glimpse of the rock star authors who help us share our love for reading with children and teens in Texas.