We were thrilled to launch programs in El Paso for the first time this year! Bringing Texas Book Festival to El Paso is a goal that we’ve had since before the pandemic, and it was great to finally turn this dream into a reality. We are deeply grateful to Maria and Darren Woody, Jordan Foster Construction, and the El Paso Community Foundation for their support of these programs.
Like our annual Festival in Austin, our El Paso programs encompassed a range of events, from school programming to a free public program with journalist and author Maria Hinojosa to a free family program with children’s authors on Saturday morning.
It all started off with Reading Rock Stars at Aoy and Hart Elementary Schools:
FRIDAY, MARCH 24
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 students. TBF also donates a copy of a featured book, signed by the author, for each student to take home to start or add to their personal library. Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates these author visits and also donates copies of the books to each school’s library.
These first-time RRS schools knocked it out of the park and kicked off a wonderful welcome for TBF and authors Rebecca Balcárcel, Zeke Peña, and Raúl the Third. Each author presented their book to different grade levels at each school and every student had a chance to meet one of the authors. There were lots of questions, lots of drawing demonstrations, and lots of smiles as the authors bounced from Aoy to Hart Elementary. Overall, almost 800 students were able to go home with their very own book, and we can’t wait to come back and work with these schools again next year.
But our day didn’t stop there! After finishing up at the schools (and sampling a local restaurant for lunch), the Texas Book Festival headed to the Philanthropy Theatre to host Maria Hinojosa, trailblazing journalist as well as anchor and executive producer of Latino USA. Maria joined Robert Moore, founder and CEO of El Paso Matters on stage for this free program, open to the public and hosted in partnership with the El Paso Community Foundation. Attendees filled the theatre and experienced a wide-ranging conversation about journalism and the importance of reporting on some of the most difficult and critical issues of our time.
The El Paso Community Foundation hosted a reception later that evening to benefit Texas Book Festival and El Paso Matters, where ticket holders were able to dine and mingle with Maria Hinojosa and leave with a signed copy of her memoir, Once I Was You. We are incredibly grateful to our partners for working with us to host such a memorable evening and to our featured speakers for helping us launch programs in El Paso in a very big way.
SATURDAY, MARCH 25
We finished up our time in El Paso at the El Paso Museum of History, where author/illustrators and El Paso natives, Zeke Peña and Raúl the Third, engaged children and families in a fun and interactive family program. Zeke and Raúl talked about their work, their professional journeys, and their El Paso roots. They also guided attendees through live drawing activities that captured the attentions of kids and adults alike. TBF gave away almost 100 books to families that participated in the morning’s program, which the authors signed for their newest fans and longtime supporters. Many families joined us for this special program and were excited to meet the authors and go home with copies of My Papi Has a Motorcycle, ¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge, and Lowriders to the Rescue. This was a fun and heartwarming way to conclude our time in the region.
Many El Pasoans thanked the authors and members of the TBF staff for bringing our program to their beautiful, dynamic city. TBF is working on building a foundation to sustain this vital new area of our outreach and cannot wait to go back to El Paso.
The Texas Book Festival El Paso were made possible due to the generous funding of the following donors: Maria and Darren Woody, Jordan Foster Construction, the El Paso Community Foundation, John Pesce and Trusted Capital Group, Kevin and Tamis Bright, Angel and Rosalia Beltran, Holly and Greg Trubowitsch, Adair and Dee Margo, Georgian Whitenight, Rosana and William Kell, John and Shelly Martin, Lone Star Title Company, Holly and Reverend Bill Cobb, Sylvia Verghese, and Isha Rogers Santamaria.