Texas Book Festival (Austin, TX)

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People browsing books in a tent

Children’s books were one of the features of the Texas Book Festival in 2003, which also included storytelling, craft activities, costumed characters, and other entertainment for children. Photo by Bob Daemmrich

The Texas Book Festival (TBF) was founded in 1995 by Mrs. Laura Bush to provide a free event bringing Texas authors to the State Capitol in Austin. The festival has since become a much-anticipated annual event, featuring more than 600 authors from Texas and beyond over the last eight years.

This past November, the Capitol was overtaken for two days by more than 180 authors and a record crowd topping 30,000. The Texas Book Festival received an NEA Creativity grant of $10,000 in FY 2003 to support the festival. Authors participated in readings, talks, and panel discussions that included topics such as “The Border on Its Own Terms,” “Not Your Father’s Alamo,” and “Award-Winning Children’s Authors.” The 2003 festival included a rich collection of writers, including Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Herman Wouk, Dave Barry, Roy Blount Jr., Calvin Trillin, Bobbi Salinas, and former First Lady Barbara Bush. A highlight of the festival was the presentation of the annual TBF Bookend Awards to Texas novelists Elmer Kelton and Shelby Hearon.

A special section of the festival is devoted to children, with costumed characters, entertainment, craft activities, and storytelling. TBF also provides outreach programs to reach potential audiences that might not be able to attend the festival. TBF On the Road is a spring program that presents literary events to smaller Texas cities. Another program, Author! Author!, brought children’s book authors to read and hold discussions at seven schools that serve lower-income areas of Austin. Each student received a signed copy of the author’s book and TBF provided curriculum guides to participating teachers.

(From the 2003 NEA Annual Report)