For the 5th year running, teenagers from all over the city united at Brandeis High School on Saturday, Feb. 27, to meet their favorite authors at Northside ISD’s author festival, LibraryPalooza: That Author Thing! LibraryPalooza began as a way to bring popular, best-selling authors, whom most kids would not ordinarily get a chance to meet, to a San Antonio audience. Each year, the festival features six authors from a variety of genres to appeal to as broad a crowd of readers as possible. Though the number of authors stays the same, the festival has grown in attendance, beckoning attendees from as far away as Houston.
This year’s featured authors were Shadow and Bone author Leigh Bardugo, The Selection author Kiera Cass, Michael Grant (Front Lines, Gone series), April Henry (Point Last Seen mystery series), graphic novelist George O’Connor (The Olympians), and popular adult fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, who is delving into the YA audience with The Reckoners series. The all-day event (10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) began with an opening panel featuring all of the authors, then three breakout sessions to visit individual authors, followed by an hour and a half of author book signings. As one attendee said, “Hearing authors discuss their craft and varied experiences with publishing has sparked an interest that would not have happened had I not attended.”
Over 1,000 middle and high school students from around San Antonio showed up to meet their favorite authors, buy books and t-shirts, and get autographs. There was also a wealth of door prizes, including free autographed books and a Nook from Barnes and Noble. Representatives from the San Antonio Public Library, the San Antonio Book Festival, and Macmillan publishers were also on hand to promote their services. LibraryPalooza is sponsored in part by Friends of Northside ISD Libraries, which was also selling LibraryPalooza t-shirts and holding a membership drive at the event.
This event promotes literacy, reading, and writing by putting successful, published authors together with their readers, many of whom are aspiring writers themselves. One young writer writer stated, “I learn a lot from the authors; they inspire me to keep writing and to follow my dream.” Teachers benefitted as well, gathering new ideas to promote reading and writing to their students. Author Michael Grant tweeted, “Here’s what was so great about @NISD_LibPalooza: It put me together with readers. If you do one thing for a writer: put writer with reader.”
Decades of research shows that reading for pleasure is highly correlated to students’ writing ability, text comprehension, and achievement in ALL subject areas. According to the National Endowment of the Arts, reading is an irreplaceable activity in developing productive and active adults, as well as healthy communities. Reading correlates with almost every measurement of positive personal and social behavior surveyed. Bringing scores of readers and writers together with successful authors reinforces this positivity, and supports the goals of education in our community.