Texas Book Festival Brings Books to Kids Texas-Wide

Free books for kids? Connecting authors with their readers? Sign us up! This past January, Texas Book Festival came to Houston for their fifth annual school literacy program in the area, Reading Rock Stars. 2019’s lineup featured ten of our most beloved kidlit authors: Roda Ahmed, Ana Aranda, Diane Gonzales Bertrand, Ame Dyckman, Vashti Harrison, Nicolás Kanellos, James Luna, Jessica Mendoza, Chitra Soundar, and Lila Quintero Weaver.

On Friday, January 25, TBF brought these nationally-acclaimed authors to four Houston Title I elementary schools. The goal of the event is to connect students with real life authors to encourage their love of reading. On top of that, TBF partnered with Brazos Bookstore and Blue Willow to donate 1,890 books to students and classrooms. Each kid went home on Friday with a brand new, personally autographed book.

Jessica Mendoza, author of There's No Base Like Home, talks with a student. Credit: Reading Rock Stars

Including this latest Reading Rock Stars event, TBF will have donated over 100,000 books to students all across the state of Texas. Of those books, 7,000 have gone to students in Houston ISD.

“Promoting literacy has been a central part of our mission since Texas Book Festival was founded in 1995,” says Outreach Manager Lea Bogner. “And for our fifth year of the Reading Rock Stars in Houston, we’re proud to bring this celebrated, diverse group of authors and their important stories to these students.”

Students read Roda Ahmed's Mae Among the Stars. Credit: Reading Rock Stars

Many of the authors’ books have been published by the bilingual, Houston-based press, Arte Público. The books presented range from biographical picture books like Roda Ahmed’s Mae Among the Stars, the story of the first African American woman in space, to middle grade adventures like Jessica Mendoza’s No Base Like Home, a story of sisterhood, friendship, and softball.

The authors all thoroughly enjoyed their visits. Jessica Mendoza tweeted some great photos of her with classes of kids, captioned “the power of reading and what it can lead to!” Ame Dyckman also tweeted to thank the schools involved, saying she had “such a fun trip!” Overall, the entire event was a great success.

This February, TBF is expanding that success to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This will be their third year bringing authors to the schools in that region, and they plan to donate 1,930 books by eight different authors. Currently the Reading Rock Star program is available to Title I elementary schools in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston. Interested parties can learn more about the application process on TBF’s website.

TBF is also looking to expand their Real Reads reading program, based on the Reading Rock Stars formula. This program will be specifically focused on encouraging teens to read.

Congratulations to TBF for another successful year at Houston ISD, and good luck with the continued expansion of this wonderful program! We look forward to collaborating again next year!

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