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!

Meet the 2021 Kirkus Prize Finalists

UPDATE: This session is now streaming. Watch the full panel here!

Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading prepublication journal of book reviews, is proud to sponsor the annual Kirkus Prize, which bestows $150,000 divided by three winning writers. At this panel, you’ll hear a group of finalists of this year’s Prize—some of this year’s most intriguing and insightful writers—talk about their most recent books.

Panelists: Young Readers’ Literature

  • Wai Chim (author, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling)
  • Sharon G. Flake (author, The Life I’m In)
  • Nikki Grimes (author, Legacy)
  • NoNieqa Ramos (author, Your Mama)
  • Jacqueline Alcántara (illustrator, Your Mama)
  • Carole Boston Weatherford (author, Unspeakable)

Nonfiction

  • Brian Broome (author, Punch Me Up to the Gods)
  • Dara Horn (author, People Love Dead Jews)
  • Tiya Miles (author, All That She Carried)
  • Katherine E. Standefer (author, Lightning Flowers)

Fiction

  • Mariana Enriquez (author, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed)
  • Megan McDowell (translator, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed)
  • Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (author, My Monticello)

In partnership with Kirkus Reviews


  • Moderator: Tom Beer, Kirkus Reviews editor in chief
  • Format: This is a live, virtual event on CrowdCast (RSVP link above).
  • Chat: Feel free to use the chat box in CrowdCast to share your thoughts and virtually cheer for and share kudos with the session’s participants! Disorderly comments will be removed immediately. Please refer to the code of conduct

2021 Texas Writer Award Recipient: Don Tate

The Texas Book Festival awards the Texas Writer Award each year to a Texas author who has made a significant contribution to the literary arts. Previous recipients include Tim O’Brien, Sarah Bird, Sandra Cisneros, Steven Weinberg, and Pat Mora.

This year, we are honored to name Don Tate as the recipient of the 2021 Texas Writer Award.  

Don’s story:

“Born with a pencil in his hand,” Don recalls that for as early as he can remember, he was always drawing and making things with his hands. He felt that he was always an artist.

What Don didn’t see himself as, or didn’t think it was possible to imagine himself as, however, was a writer. Don wasn’t a reader in his youth. He didn’t see himself represented in books and believed that the world of writers and words were for white people.

But he had an aunt, Eleanor E. Tate, who was a trailblazer. She was the first black journalist at the Des Moines Register and also wrote young adult fiction. When one of her books, Just an Overnight Guest, was adapted for TV, Don attended the premiere at the Des Moines Public Library. For Don, “it was the moment I realized I could be a book creator. It gave me permission to dream.”

Don moved to Austin in 1999 to work at the Austin American-Statesman as graphics reporter, a career he had started in Iowa at the Des Moines Register. Joining the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI), he credits the encouragement he found within the children’s book writing community, and especially the mentoring he received from Cynthia Leitich Smith, as instrumental in launching his career as an illustrator and writer.

Don’s first book publication as an illustrator was Say Hey: A Song of Willie Mays, followed by many book illustrator credits including Summer Sun Risin’, Black All Around!, Ron’s Big Mission, She loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, Hope’s Gift, The Cart That Carried Martin, and The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch.

It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw marked Don’s debut as an author and was illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. For his very first book, Don was recognized as the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor winner in 2012.

He wrote and illustrated his next book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree Publishers, 2015). Poet went on to receive multiple awards and Don made history as the first two-time recipient of an Ezra Jack Keats award.

In recent years, Don has been busy as ever, publishing and illustrating books that celebrate the important stories and contributions of blacks in American history. Don is a 2021 Texas Book Festival author with his latest book, Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes. Passionate about raising the awareness of Black voices writing for young readers, Don is the founding host of The Brown Bookshelf. Don also gives so much of his time to inspire young readers through school visits to elementary schools across Texas and beyond. He participates frequently in Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program as a featured author and illustrator.

Overcoming his insecurities about being a writer and as an award-winning author and illustrator of more than 80 books, Don reflects:

“What I discovered is that writing is just like illustrating, but using different tools. With illustration, I’m using my stylus and graphics program. With writing, I’m using nouns, verbs, and adjectives.”

 

2021 Festival Schedule

The 2021 hybrid Texas Book Festival schedule is here!

We’re excited to finally share our official 2021 schedule with you! This year’s Texas Book Festival kicks off on October 23 and runs through October 31 and features both virtual and limited in-person author appearances. The Fest begins the weekend of October 23 and 24 with virtual young adult Texas Teen Book Festival programming and virtual children’s programming, followed by virtual adult author programming from October 25 to 31.

Children’s programming continues with select in-person appearances by picture book authors at Symphony Square in downtown Austin on Saturday, October 30, followed by an in-person adult Lit Crawl which will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m CT. Adult author programming concludes the Festival with select in-person sessions at Austin Public Central Library on Sunday, October 31.

You can now register for all in-person sessions, which will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis to the capacity limit.

Due to Austin’s current Stage 4 Covid guidelines, we have put safety precautions in place to protect our attendees, authors, volunteers, and vendors. All attendees ages 2+ are required to wear a mask at all times. All attendees ages 18+ are required to provide either proof of vaccine or a negative Covid test performed no longer than 72 hours prior to the event. All venues will be at reduced capacity, and social distancing will be enforced.

We can’t wait to see you online and in-person, October 23-31! 

Announcing Book Tickets for R.J. Palacio!

Join us for a conversation with R.J. Palacio as she discusses her new book Pony on October 23 at 12 pm CT. Each ticket is $25 and includes the cost of the book, processing fees, and shipping. Books will come with a signed bookplate, while supplies last! This will be a virtual session.

Get tickets here!

Pony has so many topics to discuss for fifth grade and up. Thank you to Random House Children’s Books for creating this beautiful Pony discussion guide. Click to download, and contact bookfest@texasbookfestival.org if you have any trouble accessing the file.

R. J. Palacio is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder, which has sold over 12 million copies worldwide. The book’s message inspired the Choose Kind movement and has been embraced by readers around the world, with the book published in over 50 languages. Wonder was made into a blockbuster movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay. Palacio’s other bestselling books include 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts, Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories, the picture book We’re All Wonders, and the graphic novel White Bird, which is currently being filmed as a major motion picture starring Gillian Anderson and Helen Mirren. Palacio lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.

Please direct questions to the Texas Book Festival at bookfest@texasbookfestival.org. Every book ticket sold and book purchased through the BookPeople Festival Store supports the Texas Book Festival and Festival authors. Thank you!

Announcing Book Tickets for Colson Whitehead!

Join us for a conversation with Colson Whitehead as he discusses his new book Harlem Shuffle on October 25 at 12:45 pm. Each ticket is $35 and includes the cost of the book, processing fees, and shipping. The first 100 ticket buyers will get a signed copy of Harlem Shuffle. This will be a virtual session.

Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten works of fiction and nonfiction, and is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, for The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which also won the National Book Award. A recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.

Get tickets here!

Please direct questions to the Texas Book Festival at bookfest@texasbookfestival.org. Every book ticket sold and book purchased through the BookPeople Festival Store supports the Texas Book Festival and Festival authors. Thank you!

Hispanic Heritage Month Events You Can’t Miss!

Let’s celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15, with these 5 literary events across Texas and highlight the history, contribution, and cultural wealth of the Latinx community. Thank you Austin Public Library, Book People, and Humanities Texas for your commitment to lifting Latinx voices year round!


1. Spanish Language Story-Time at Austin Public Library: This year round resource highlights the community cultural wealth of the Latinx community.

 


2. Virtual event at Book People: My Two Border Towns

BookKids Presents: “A picture book debut by an award-winning author about a boy’s life on theU.S.-Mexico border,visiting his favorite places on The Other Side with his father, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care.”

 


3. Exhibition: In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez

Humanities Texas presents this traveling exhibition with thirty-eight photographs paired with excerpts from Chávez’s
dynamic speeches and authoritative writings.

 

 


4. Virtual event at Book People: Cuba in My Pocket

BookKids Presents a conversation about Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas: “A middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author’s family history.”

 


5. Exhibition: Voces Americanas: Latino Literature in the United States

This exhibition captures a quarter century of Hispanic publishing
through books, movie stills, public presentations, and illustrations.

 

 

 

BONUS UPDATE: We have more exciting events to share for this October. Check them out!

6. Hispanic Reading Room Virtual Programming

Join the Library of Congress in a webinar celebration of children’s and YA Latin American and Latinx literature, featuring Reading Rock Stars authors Raúl The Third and Sili Recio!

7. ¡Se Ha Dicho! Exhibit Reception

Join the reception to meet the curator and artists of ¡Se Ha Dicho! Exhibit at the Austin Central Library.

8. Viva Frida! Storyteller Blanca Reyna as Frida Kahlo

Come learn about the woman, the artist, the myth, and the mystery at Duncanville Pubic Library.

Texas Monthly presents: BEING TEXAN

Texas Monthly is a proud sponsor of the Texas Book Festival. We’re excited to announce its new book, Being Texan, written by the editors of Texas Monthly!

Texas, our Texas. It’s big, it’s boastful, it’s always in the news. But what do you really know about the Lone Star State? Whether you’ve felt the lure of the vast Texas sky, grew up in Texas, or just want to make sense of the place, Being Texan will give readers an illuminating look at Texas in all its beauty, vastness, and diversity.

Pre-order your copy today!

Sneak Peek: 15 authors coming to TBF 2021

The Texas Book Festival is excited to unveil fifteen authors joining the weeklong hybrid Festival this fall.

The Festival will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, Michener Center for Writers instructor Elizabeth McCracken, bestselling novelist and 2016 Kirkus Prize finalist Amor Towles, National Medal of Arts recipient and 2005 Texas Writer Award recipient Sandra Cisneros, bestselling children’s author R. J. Palacio, and many more.

Starting October 23, the weeklong hybrid Festival will include a robust, diverse lineup of established, emerging, and debut literary talent for readers of all ages. TBF’s full lineup will be completed and revealed later this summer. See the full press release.

Order your copy! Find all of the sneak peek authors’ books at BookPeople.

The list of the fifteen sneak peek authors includes:

Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World
Sandra Cisneros, Martita, I Remember You / Martita, te recuerdoMary Gaitskill, The Devil’s Treasure
Gabriela Garcia, Of Women and Salt
Elizabeth McCracken, The Souvenir Museum
Maggie Nelson, On Freedom: Four songs of Care and Constraint
R.J. Palacio, Pony
Raj Patel, Inflamed
Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes
Amor Towles, The Lincoln Highway
Sergio Troncoso, Nepantla Familias: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature on Families in Between WorldsColson Whitehead, Harlem Shuffle
Cecily Wong, Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide
Lawrence Wright, The Plague Year

Welcome New TBF Board Members

The Texas Book Festival is thrilled to welcome five new members to our Board of Directors. Join us in welcoming Dalton YoungAndrea ValdezAnna HargroveGrant Loveless, and Carlos Y. Benavides IV. Our Board of Directors play a crucial role in advancing the TBF’s strategic vision and mission, overseeing our financial resources, and ensuring the sustainability and vitality of our programs.

We are proud to have exceptionally hands-on board members. From lending a hand in our Reading Rock Stars classrooms to moderating sessions at the Festival to reviewing grant applications and much more, our Board is a big part of what makes the Texas Book Festival the successful, far-reaching organization that it is. These new members each bring an impressive array of talents and rich experience to our board, and we look forward to working with them in the coming years.