The venue, a Corpus Christi high school, was filled with kids who opted to spend the day talking about books.
That in itself is impressive.
Add to that the number of teachers who brought bus loads of students from all parts of the region.
But here's where it got really interesting. This is South, way South, Texas. This meant that the overwhelming majority of teens who attended this event were Latino. Breakout sessions, book selling tables, author signings were swarmed with masses of young readers who wanted to learn more about, discuss, and share YA books.
And it gets even better. By my count five Latino authors were featured. They naturally infuse their writing with their culture. Books include plots that feature a middle grade adventure featuring a nagual i.e. a shape shifter; a young teen coping with the devastating effects of a terminal illness in her close-knit family; a girl who hopes to communicate with her deceased mother with an Incan artifact; the coming-of-age of a young man in a small Texas town,; and an eleven year-old boy who travels to the Underworld. These books feature imaginative storylines, characters with depth, and have high teen appeal. There is some great reading here. David Bowles' The Smoking Mirror was awarded a 2016 Pura Belpre Honor. Guadalupe Garcia McCall's Under the Mesquite was a 2012 Pura Belpre Award winner, 2012 Morris Award finalist and earned a starred review from Kirkus. Seeing Off the Johns by Rene S. Perez garnered a starred review from School Library Journal.
Here are Latino teens who love to read, Here Latino authors who love to write. Here are small publishers such as Lee & Low, Cinco Puntos Press, Cedar Fort, and IFWG Publishing who bring these stories to publication.
Due to the efforts of educators and librarians, Latino teens and authors were able to come together for one magic Saturday in South Texas.
This event represents an excellent model for celebrating and promoting diverse readers, authors, books, and communities.
Thank you Teen Bookfest By the Bay!