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.