2023 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest

Calling all young writers of Texas! It’s time to submit your stories! We are proud to announce that the submission window for our 2023 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest is now open. Create a fictional story inspired by the one-word prompt: Passwords.

Eligibility Requirements
– Writer must live in Texas
– Writer must be enrolled in grades 6-12th
– Writer must submit an original work of fiction that includes no more than 2,000 words
– Submission must be written by a single author; no co-authors

Submission Requirements & Format
– Follow the theme provided; choose your own fiction genre 
– Use language that fits your audience
– Submit only one entry
– Include a title page with your name, email, and word count
– Format: Double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt size font, 1-inch margins
– Number all pages and submit in one of the following formats: .pdf, .doc, .docx
– Save your file using: TitleofStory_YourInitials [example: ThroneofGlass_SJM]
– Submit through Google form: Fresh Ink Fiction Contest

Deadline: Wednesday, September 13, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. CST

Entry must be the author’s original work and creation – no plagiarism or fan fiction.
Still have a question about the contest? Email Michelle: michelle@texasbookfestival.org 

Austin Bat Cave will be hosting a virtual session and workshop for all writers who have submitted their stories to the Fresh Ink Contest; more details to come. Join writers, editors, and publishing experts as we celebrate your work, talk about the writing life, and discuss next steps for sharing your work!

Thank you to Random House Children’s Books for sponsoring the Fresh Ink Fiction contest!

Entries will be judged by Texas Book Festival authors, educators, and leaders in the publishing industry. Judges will look for excellence in dialogue, imagery, character development, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Winners will be invited to participate in the Texas Book Festival on November 11-12, 2023 and be awarded a fun literary prize. Winners will be announced on October 13, 2023.

Reading Rock Stars Roundup

We are still feeling all the joy that comes with joining students, educators, and authors for Reading Rock Stars school visits, and we don’t want to keep that joy to ourselves. As we reflect, we also want to take a moment to share highlights and recognize the authors and schools that helped to make our first Reading Rock Stars events of the year such a success.

For those not familiar with the program, Reading Rock Stars is Texas Book Festival’s elementary-focused initiative that brings nationally recognized children’s authors to Title I elementary schools in regions across Texas. Authors inspire young readers by sharing engaging presentations and taking time to personally connect with them. Each student also takes home a copy of the book featured in their presentation, signed by the author, to start or add to their home library. Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates these author visits and donates the books given to students and each school’s library.


Our first stop was Houston, where we had Reading Rock Stars events at 4 schools: Thompson, Harris, Magrill Primary, and Impact Leadership Academy at Wilson. We were thrilled to bring authors Van Garrett, Don Tate, J. Elle, Laekan Zea Kemp, Elisa Chavarri, Jamar Perry, Michael Genhart, Nicholas Solis, Carmen Oliver, Zetta Elliott, and Jasminne Mendez to these schools to meet with students and share their work and their own stories. More than 1,800 Houston students received a copy of a signed book, in most cases, handed to them by the author themself. There were big smiles and good energy all around!

Special messages from Reading Rock Stars:


Dallas and Fort Worth

The next Reading Rock Stars region we visited was Dallas-Fort Worth, where we were joined by authors Anne Wynter, Shadra Strickland, Marcelo Verdad, Nicholas Solis, Lyla Lee, Carmen Tafolla, Debbi Michiko Florence, and Ridley Pearson. We had wonderful visits at 6 schools in the area, including Guzick, Audelia Creek, Forestridge, BJ Elliott, Van Zandt-Guinn, and Westcliff, and gave signed books to more than 3,000 DFW students!

In addition to the awesome time spent with students in schools, Texas Book Festival staff and authors visited Interabang Books. Visiting a local independent bookstore provided an opportunity for lots of bonding, laughs, and so many photos. The authors also signed books while they were in the shop.



Rio Grande Valley

A week after finishing up our DFW visit, we hit the road to the RGV for visits at Ybarra, Cesar Chavez, Canterbury, Bryan, Margo, and Guerra elementary schools. It was a delight to have authors Laekan Zea Kemp, David Bowles, Zara Gonzalez Hoang, Marcelo Verdad, Karla A. Valenti, Ana Siqueira, Carmen Tafolla, Xavier Garza, and Erika Said join us in this region. More than 3,800 RGV students went home with their very own book!

While choosing photos from Reading Rock Stars in this region, we made sure to include shots of some of the amazing art created by RGV students, inspired by the visiting authors’ books!


Next up: We’re headed to El Paso!

For the first time, Texas Book Festival will bring its signature elementary literacy program, Reading Rock Stars, to El Paso! El Paso will be the fifth Reading Rock Stars region joining Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Rio Grande Valley, and Austin.

Reading Rock Stars El Paso will feature children’s authors Rebecca Balcárcel, Zeke Peña, and Raúl the Third visiting Aoy and Hart Elementary Schools in the El Paso Independent School District. Students at the schools will each get a chance to hear from one of the authors, and every student will go home with a signed copy of the author’s book!


Love what we do? Support our mission!

Donations fund our Reading Rock Stars and Real Reads outreach programs in Title I schools, Texas public library grants, and of course, help keep the Festival free for all!

Donate here

Real Reads Austin 2022

At this year’s Texas Book Festival, three award-winning authors joined us to engage with young readers as part of our Real Reads program. Modeled after our long-running elementary-focused Reading Rock Stars program, Real Reads aims to foster the love of reading in Texas middle school, high school, and young adult students. Like with Reading Rock Stars, Texas Book Festival provides a copy of the featured book to every student who participates in each Real Reads session.

Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. His poetry and essays are published in the New York Times Magazine, POETRY, The Atlantic, and Vibe. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. Julian holds an MFA in Poetry from Ole Miss. His first book, Refuse, won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He was also a contributor to the #1 New York Times-bestseller, Black Boy Joy. Julian has previously worked as a youth mentor, teaching writing workshops to children on house arrest. Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa is his debut children’s novel.

Julian joined us for a dynamic presentation during which he shared his writing inspiration and process as well as the Dominican cultural and historical connections and influences that helped to shape Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa. The energy in the room was contagious as Julian answered questions about the story and his writing life and students shared their thoughts and curiosities.

Celia C. Pérez is the author of the award-winning and critically acclaimed books, The First Rule of Punk and Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers. She lives in Chicago with her family, where in addition to writing books about lovable weirdos and outsiders, she works as a librarian.

In her Real Reads session, Celia gave students insight into what her early writing life was like when she was their age. She also talked about how her own cultures have influenced her stories, including the one told in her newest book, Tumble. The young writers who attended the session received awesome writing advice and encouragement from Celia and got to participate in Q&A session as well. It was truly inspiring!

Rubén Degollado is an educator from Texas and the author of The Family Izquierdo and the young adult novel, Throw. His fiction has appeared in Beloit Fiction Journal, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Image.

Rubén is a compelling storyteller who drew in his audience immediately as he recounted the events that led to his becoming an author. Full of humor and easy conversation, this session offered attendees a glimpse into the writing life and the people and events that inspired The Family Izquierdo. A particularly memorable moment came when a student and her parents shared their excitement about the connections they found between the Izquierdo family and their own. It was a beautiful reminder of the importance of representation and celebration of cultures in literature and the impact that seeing oneself in stories and authors can have on a reader.

Love what we do? Support our mission!

Donations help to fund our Reading Rock Stars and Real Reads outreach programs in Title I schools, support our Texas public library grants program, and help keep our annual Festival free for all!

Donate today

Reading Rock Stars Austin 2022

In early November, twenty-nine incredible authors and illustrators joined Texas Book Festival for our Reading Rock Stars program in 9 Title 1 schools in the Austin area. Every student in our partner schools had the opportunity to be a part of this exciting day focused on the joys of reading, writing, drawing, and storytelling and went home with their very own copy of a featured book. During Reading Rock Stars presentations, authors and illustrators shared their stories, talked about their craft, and interacted with their young audiences in a variety of creative and engaging ways. During their visits, it was not unusual to see an illustrator co-creating art with kids or to catch an author leading students through a lively discussion as they came up with a new story together.

With generous donations from our sponsors, Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates Reading Rock Stars author visits and provides copies of visiting authors’ books to children and to their school’s library. Since the program began, Texas Book Festival has provided more than 150,000 books to students and hosted more than 600 author visits. Reading Rock Stars is currently partnered with schools in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, and will be expanding to El Paso in 2023.

Love what we do? Support our mission!

Donations help to fund our Reading Rock Stars and Real Reads outreach programs in Title I schools, support our Texas public library grants program, and help keep our annual Festival free for all!

Donate today

2022 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest Winners

We are excited to announce the winners of the 2022 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest! This year’s theme was “What are you waiting for?”, and we were impressed by the creative submissions we received from students across Texas. We are honored so many talented young writers shared their stories with us, and we are thrilled to share the winning story in each grade level with you here.

Congratulations to the 2022 winners:

6th Grade

El C. – The Man in the Closet

7th Grade

Jill S. – What Are You Waiting For?

8th Grade

Savanna R. – The Day I Stopped Believing in Love

9th Grade

Audrey H. – Patchwork Homes

10th Grade

Astrid G. – All the Pieces Left Behind

11th Grade

Celia A. – The Lightest Bullet

12th Grade

Danielle B. – The Ring

All Fresh Ink Fiction Contest participants were invited to an exclusive Q&A session and workshop with Austin Bat Cave, where students joined writers, editors, and publishing experts to celebrate their work, talk about the writing life, and discuss next steps for sharing their work.

The Fresh Ink Contest winner for each grade level will be awarded a Book Nerd gift pack and great new reads from Random House. They will each also receive a $20 BookPeople gift card. The Fresh Ink Fiction Contest is sponsored by AT&T and Random House Children’s Books.

Thank you to everyone who entered the Fresh Ink Fiction Contest. You inspire us!

Thank you to partner Austin Bat Cave for providing a fabulous workshop and to Random House Children’s Books and BookPeople for providing our contest prizes!

Morning Glories: Storytime with Nicholas Solis

Join us on Tuesday, September 20, at 10:00 a.m. as the Texas Book Festival partners with Waterloo Greenway to kick off their fall Morning Glories series. Morning Glories is a free early childhood education series that provides hands-on activities and programs focusing on literacy, bilingual storytelling, music and dance workshops, cultural learnings, and nature play.

Don’t miss this outdoor storytime with Austin author Nicholas Solis and his presentation of his new book, My Town / Mi Pueblo. This event will take place on the Meredith Heritage Tree Deck at 1301 Trinity St. We hope to see you there!


Logo - Waterloo Greenway

2022 Texas Library Grant Recipients

Texas Book Festival is proud to support the work of libraries and librarians across the state to promote literacy and foster a love of reading in their communities. With funding focused on collection enhancement, libraries are able to add books and resources that meet the needs and interests of their patrons.

We are excited to announce this year’s recipients, which include 42 Texas libraries that were awarded a grand total of $101,000. Congratulations to all!

2022 Texas Library Grants recipients:

Atwell Public Library
Zula B. Wylie Public Library
Mammen Family Public Library
Bedford Public Library
Marfa Public Library
Tarkington Community Library
Cooke County Library
Nueces County Keach Family Library
Pflugerville Public Library
Howard County Library
Hampton Illinois Branch, Dallas Public Library
Henderson County Library
Marathon Public Library
Nesbitt Memorial Library
Plano Public Library
Cockrell Hill Library
W. Walworth Harrison Public Library
Hillsboro City Library
Cozby Library & Community Commons
Florence Public Library
Haltom City Public Library
Mineola Memorial Library
Reeves County Library
D. Brown Memorial Library
Brownwood Public Library
Wilson County Public Libraries
Amarillo Public Library
Mesquite Public Library
Arlington Public Library
Midland County Public Library
Larry J Ringer Library, Bryan + College Station Library System
Dublin Public Library
El Paso Public Library
Jarrell Community Library
Converse Public Library
Judy B. McDonald Public Library
Jackson County Memorial Library
Castroville Public Library
Whitehouse Community Library
Marlin Public Library
Longview Public Library
Daingerfield Public Library

Applications for 2022 Texas Library Grants

UPDATE: Thank you for your interest in the Texas Library Grant. The submission window is now closed and we are no longer accepting applications. Please contact michelle@texasbookfestival.org with any questions.


Libraries across Texas can now apply for a 2022 grant to help expand their library collections and share the diversity and breadth of literature with their communities.

These Texas Book Festival Collections Enhancement Grants are made possible by funds raised at the annual Festival and through TBF’s generous donors. Since 1996, the organization has funded 1,169 grants totaling over $3 million to 600+ libraries in every corner of the state. Read more here to see which Texas libraries received grants in 2021.

The 2022 application is now closed. The application submission deadline was Tuesday, May 31.

Visit our library grants page for more information!

Reading Rock Stars Austin 2021

This fall, Texas Book Festival hosted visits from twenty-two exciting authors with nine Title I elementary schools in the Austin area as part of our Reading Rock Stars program. During these highly-anticipated visits, students had the opportunity to hear from authors about their writing journeys and craft, listen to stories, and ask questions.

Children holding the book "The Color Corrector"

Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program is a hands-on literacy initiative that sends nationally recognized authors into Title I schools in Texas to inspire young readers with dynamic presentations. With generous donations from our sponsors, Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates these author visits and provides copies of visiting authors’ books to children and to their school’s library. Since the program began, Texas Book Festival has provided more than 133,000 books to students and hosted 400+ author visits. Reading Rock Stars is currently partnered with schools in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and the Rio Grande Valley.

Author, Gloria Amescua, greeting student

students seated in library

Thank you to our Reading Rock Stars sponsors who provide books and author visits to thousands of children in Title I elementary schools throughout Texas!

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.