Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wordcraft – They have a list or two, just for you!

The North TexasTeen Book Festival just keeps getting better! The later date this year – April instead of last year’s March – surprised me, but the schedule change meant the NTTBF had the entire Irving Convention Center to itself this past Saturday. And it needed it. The convention center was packed with more than 70 authors and nearly 8,000 attendees, more than double last year’s attendance.

Yes, it was hectic. Fortunately there were security personnel to direct the traffic that streamed up and down the escalators. Concession stands sported long lines at the concession stands (note: go before the end of each hour’s panels), and some of the panels having to turn attendees away for lack of room. After being confronted by long lines of school buses last year, I took DART, which stops near the convention center, to avoid the parking crush.

My take is: thousands of people, mostly teens, crazy about books, is worth some aggravation. But maybe next year the festival can expand over an entire weekend? (There was a separate session Friday for educators.) Monitors had to urge attendees to give author panels time to get to their next appointment, but how great is it to see kids mobbing authors as if they’re rock stars? To see them begging authors, book bloggers, and BookTube stars their own age for autographs and pictures?
The level of enthusiasm made the festival worth being nearly run over a few times. Hey, it was a festival, not a staid and stodgy conference.
My sights were set first on the Lone Star All-Stars panel. How have I gone so long without knowing about the amazing reading lists complied by the Texas Library Association? Two of the lists – Lone Star for grades 6-8 and TAYSHAS for grades 9-12 – were featured at the festival. These are designed to encourage students to explore a variety of current books. These are lists for recreational reading, not intended to support a specific curriculum, and each title has been favorably reviewed in professional review services.
In addition to the Lone Star and TAYSHAS lists, the Texas Library Association also has suggested reading lists for younger kids as well as adults. Click on "reading lists" here to see everything.
The NTTBF panel of Lone Star All-Stars included authors of current and previous list titles Karen Blumenthal  (Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different), Rachel Caine (Ink and Bones), Christina Diaz Gonzalez  (Moving Target), Gordon Korman (Ungifted), Marie Lu  (Legend series), and Teresa Toten  (The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B).
“What these lists (Lone Star and TAYSHAS) do is introduce readers to a lot of voices they might not have heard of,” said Blumenthal, a longtime Dallas resident.
Korman agreed. “Every state has a list like these. One of the great things about lists like that it provides a level of critical acclaim for books that don’t get the Newbery level of acclaim.”
Does not getting Newbery Medal from the American Library Association (which only honors one book each year) mean a book isn’t worthy of being read?
“Most of my books are funny,” Korman said wryly, “and you know the funny movie doesn’t win the Oscar.”
Kids apparently agreed on the worthiness of the books in question, avidly asking questions and descending on authors at the panel’s conclusion, a phenomenon repeated over and over during the festival.

I’ll post more about the NTTBF, especially the popularity of BookTube and how to set up your own book channel, later. In the meantime, don’t forget that this coming Saturday, April 30, sees a revising and expanded Dallas Book Festival  at the Central Branch of the Dallas Public Library, 1515 Young St., Dallas, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
I’m looking forward to hearing author Joshua Hammer discuss his The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, among other, but one librarian personally recommended Adam Mansbach’s Go the F**k to Sleep for all parents who’s been at their wits end over their kids' sleeping habits. (Check out the YouTube readings by Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson and others.)

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