Young adults from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area gathered at the Irving Convention Center on Saturday for the North Texas Teen Book Festival.
The festival is one of the largest teen book festivals in the country, according to the city of Irving, and is growing annually because of its success in promoting young adult literacy.
“There are older young adult book festivals that have been doing this job for a long time, but we came on the scene in a big way.”
“There are older young adult book festivals that have been doing this job for a long time, but we came on the scene in a big way,” said Mary Hinson, the Teen Services senior library assistant at the South Irving Public Library.
In its first year, the festival brought in around 3,500 people. In 2016, the attendance grew to roughly 8,000, most of whom were teenagers.
“With the festival growing, our truly stellar author lineups, and increased publicity, it’s not unreasonable to expect we’ll be seeing growth both locally and in the kidlit community as a whole,” Hinson said.
The festival is intended to promote young adult appreciation and participation in literature, specifically in the Dallas-Forth Worth community.
It was founded “in the hope that it would be a hub for young adult literature in North Texas, an event to both celebrate books and unify readers,” Hinson said.
The two-day event began on Friday with an Educator Day open to young-adult educators in the area in order to help them learn new tactics that increase literacy in and out of the classroom.
Saturday’s activities included speed dating with books, panel discussions with several authors of young adult literature, and a conversation with R.L. Stine, author of the “Goosebumps” series.
“Our mission is to connect readers with the authors they love and also empower those readers to share their own stories.”
“Our mission is to connect readers with the authors they love and also empower those readers to share their own stories,” Hinson said.
Among the many attendees, a group of North Texan teenage writers were present on Saturday in the hopes that their dreams as aspiring authors would one day lead them to their own seat at the panel discussions.
Kate Wilson is an aspiring author who, with her friends, wrote a book series during her time in high school with the hope of becoming a published writer.
She and her friends come to the festival to interact with authors, connect with other young adult writers, and come up with new ideas for upcoming novels.
“There’s a great sense of community at the festival with people that share in our interests,” Wilson said.
“There’s a great sense of community at the festival with people that share in our interests.”
Set on a supernatural college campus, the teens’ series is in the editing and revision phase. Wilson hopes that the series is published soon, bringing them one step closer to their spot on the author lineup in festivals to come.
The festival’s tagline this year was “Endless Stories.” Much like Wilson shared her stories through the characters she created in the series, many aspiring writers can share their stories through literature with the guidance of the authors and panelists present at the festival.
“Not only do these authors have something to say that resonates with readers, teens do, too, and we want to provide an experience for them that gives them the freedom and courage to share their own stories,” Hinson said.
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