Bookworms Blossoming

The fourth annual Austin Teen Book Festival

Libba Bray
Libba Bray (Photo courtesy of Vania Stoyanova)

Riding the wave of massive sales in the Young Adult section, the Austin Teen Book Festival ( has grown rapidly, parallel to its targeted fanbase. This Sept. 29 event encourages a dialogue about reading and sets the scene for both aspiring novelists and the 30-some published authors in attendance. Partnering with Austin Public Libraries and BookPeople, ATBF is free of charge or registration and aims to spark the imaginations of teens' sponge-like brains and inspire lifelong reading across genre lines.

New this year is the addition of exhibitors, comprised mostly of local organizations seeking to promote the awareness of cultural activities. Tim Staley, executive director of the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation (the sponsoring organization), says the goal is to give teens "the opportunity to learn about other ways of becoming culturally engaged. Austin has some great cultural resources for teens, and we thought this would be a good way of letting them know about some of them." Exhibitors include the Austin Bat Cave, Badgerdog Literary Publishing, GENaustin, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Penguin Young Readers Group, and the Long Center for the Performing Arts.

My almost 14-year-old niece attended last year with a group from her school, and she is very excited about returning. Ally Carter and Dan Krokos top her list of must-sees this year, but a huge thrill resides in the anticipation of discovering new authors and series and, of course, meeting new book-loving friends.

Keynote speakers Neal Shusterman (UnWholly) and Texas native Libba Bray (The Diviners) headline the 2012 festival. Six additional panels are scheduled on quirky topics such as "Creature Comfort" and "Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads," and there will be opportunities for booksigning throughout the day. Books will be available for purchase through BookPeople, and teens may bring three from home to be signed for each book purchased at the fest.

The Austin Teen Book Festival takes place Sept. 29, 9:30am-5pm, at the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Rd.). The event is free and open to the public.

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Austin Teen Book Festival, Tim Staley, Libba Bray, Dan Krokos, Neal Shusterman, Ally Carter, BookPeople, Austin Public Libraries, Badgerdog, Austin Bat Cave, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, GENaustin

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