Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bookworm Festival Hits New Attendance Record

More than 600 young readers and family members attended the Feb. 6 Bookworm Festival held at Spring Oaks Middle School, event organizers report, an attendance record for this three-year-old district event.

The morning book festival included a keynote speech by a New York Times best-selling author, Mac Barnett, author of Leo, A Ghost Story. Special public sessions with Barnett and five other children’s authors and illustrators, plus book signings, were also hosted.

Mac Barnett, author of  Leo, A Ghost Story, speaks to an audience of young readers at Spring Oaks Middle School's Bookworm Festival. 

Managed by Melanie Scales as Chair of the Bookworm Committee for all three years, the Bookworm Festival is designed as a fun literacy event that celebrates reading with early readers, as well as the adult authors who write for them. 

Spring Branch ISD organizers said that this year’s festival marked an event peak in several ways. More families attended from across the district, six buses transported district federally defined low-income, or Title I, school students to the festival, and popular interest increased on Bookworm Festival’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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“My most touching moments are when I see the faces and eyes of children light up when it is their time in line to personally meet an author. Many do ask for a picture or signed book, or they ask for a hug. Seeing this touches my heart each year,” said library system leader JoAnn Conlon, who directs the district’s Innovative Resource Media Systems Department.

This year, families came from as far away as Austin ISD to meet and question six popular children’s authors. SBISD parents “could not believe that they could meet award-winning authors in their school district for free,” Conlon noted.

This year’s festival was supported once again by Blue Willow Books, a local book seller, and through a new, generous grant from the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation in partnership with energy corporation Phillips 66.

SBISD librarian Melanie Scales joined with many other district volunteers to make the morning festival a success. “This festival aims to connect children with authors and illustrators to facilitate a love of reading,” she said during event remarks.

In keynote remarks, Los Angeles-based author Mac Barnett used key illustrations from his recent work, Leo, A Ghost Story, to show students how children’s picture books are designed and created in a collaborative, but artistic method.

Barnett’s picture books include Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, and Extra Yarn. He is also the author of the mystery series known as the Brixton Brothers, as well as the Terrible Two series with Jory John.

In two separate Bookworm Festival sessions, Barnett and the five other authors shared writing ideas and personal stories with young fans and their families.

Other celebrated Bookworm Festival authors this year included:
  • Doreen Cronin, the author of Bloom
  • Jennifer Sattler, author and illustrator of Chick ‘n’ Pug and The Love Pug
  • Stephen Savage, author and illustrator of Where’s Walrus?  And Penguin?
  • Emma Virjan, author and illustrator of What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush
  • Salina Yoon, author and illustrator of Be a Friend
Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop, introduced the guest speaker. The Memorial Drive bookseller has been a generous, ongoing festival supporter and longtime “Good Neighbor” partner in the school district.


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