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North Texas Teen Book Fest Keeps Teens Engaged in Reading

Book lovers, young and old, flocked to the North Texas Teen Book Festival (NTTBF) presented in the Irving Convention Center on Saturday, March 23.

The festival began five years ago when Irving librarian Kristen Trevino recognized the need for a large teen centered author event.

“We started doing young adult author events at the Central Library,” Allison Jenkins, a librarian at South Irving Library, specializing in middle school programing, said. “Kristen and I had been to other teen book festivals when Kristen was like ‘What if we did one ourselves?’

“It’s grown exponentially over the last five years. The first year we did it, it was only on one floor. Now we’ve taken over [the Convention Center].

“We are about promoting lifelong learning and literacy for these teens. We’ve found that teens meeting authors, making that connection with this person wrote this book is important. [Teens] can ask [authors] questions about [a book] and share with them what they thought about the book; that really gets [teens] excited about reading. It helps [teens] keep reading, so they continue the process of lifelong learning.”

This year’s event included a film festival.

“We showed the movie ‘Dumplin,’” Jenkins said. “We had Julie Murphy do a Q and A afterwards; she’s author of the book. On Friday, we did a Becky Albert Townley Q and A and showed the movie ‘Love Simon.’ We had a showing of ‘The Hate You Give’ and Q and A with Angie Thomas. Those were a few extra special things we added for our fifth year celebration.”

One of the guest speakers at the festival was author Raina Telgemeier.

“One of the things I get asked about constantly is what do you suggest that budding creators do? What is your advice to people who want to write or want to draw,” Telgemeier said. “I have three pieces of advice: read books, talk to people, and tell your story.”

“If you read books, you may feel less alone.

“It was really helpful to talk to my friends. Talk to your friends, talk to your family. It doesn’t matter who, just talk to people. Then maybe you’ll be able to tell your story.”

Telgemeier spoke about telling her personal experience with anxiety and therapy through books and having an audience relate to her.

“The most personal stories are the ones everyone can relate to,” Telgemeier said.

She encourages future creators to be vulnerable and share their stories.

“However it is that you want to tell your story, I encourage you to do just that,” Telgemeier said.

Angie Magaña and her two daughters, Eva and Annie, attended the NTTBF to see Telgemeier speak.

“I like reading because of all the emotions and feelings that are in the book, how they express their feelings and the drive,” Annie said.

“I like how books take me away while reading stories,” Eva said.

Angie is thankful NTTBF is a resource for her girls.

“I am a librarian, so any event that promotes reading, authors and books is a valuable experience for the kids,” Angie said. “So many things in our lives are commercial. This event, to me, is one with a higher purpose than just selling books.”

Lesly Sosa, one of many teens, attended the NTTBF for the third time.

“I like that it brings together authors, and you can get your book signed and stuff like that,” Sosa said. “You can actually meet your authors, and you don’t have to save money with it being free. As long as you have time, it’s great opportunity. I think it’s really fun.”

Teens, Jaden Turner and Mallory Wilkie, came to the festival with their school.

“I wanted to get some new books during the event,” Turner said. “We’re going try to go to some of the author signings too.”

“It is a new experience being here, and we are excited about all the books and authors,” Wilkie said.

Turner enjoys realistic fiction and was hoping to see one of her favorite authors, Kiersten White, during the festival.

“I like to see the way it could happen,” Turner said. “That way I could experience something bad that happened but it isn’t real.”

One of the most popular events at the festival was Speed Dating with a Book.

“The purpose of the Speed Dating with a Book is to introduce our teens to debut authors and diverse authors,” Jenkins said. “It is not necessarily the ‘New York Times’ best sellers, but ones they wouldn’t have necessarily heard of. It’s basically to have them meet a new author.

“They go around, and they get pitched books from librarians and teachers. When they find the one that sparks their interests, they get to take that book home with them.

“It helps them build their own personal library at home, so they can take books with them. Teens usually don’t have the most disposable income. This way these kids at least get a book to take home with them.”

The NTTBF is all about keeping the love for reading alive.

“It is really just about promoting literacy and keeping teens reading, so they don’t lose that love for reading,” Jenkins said.