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. 

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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.