The Diocese of San Jose hosted its first annual Young Authors Book Festival in San Jose on May 6 to celebrate more than 100 student authors. Theresa Yang, Saint Victor School’s Development Coordinator, lead a team of diocesan teachers and administrators to spotlight the work of young authors, expose them to bestselling authors, and offer families interactive opportunities to encourage literacy.
Dr. Seuss said it best, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”
More than 100 Diocese of San Jose (DSJ) student authors in grades K-8 were awarded Teacher’s Choice and Principal Awards for the books they authored. The achievements of these student authors were enjoyed by the community through public readings of their original works at this event. A document camera projected the pages of their books on the big screen while student authors read excerpts of their books to the eager crowd.
Attendees could choose from a multitude of activities including book signings, and presentations by #1 “New York Times” bestselling author and illustrator, Raina Telgemeier; the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang; and local graphic novelist, Thien Pham.
Due to a flight cancellation, Thien Pham stepped in for Mr. Yang to address the crowd in the keynote. Mr. Pham gave an inspirational talk about the humble beginnings of many of the most successful graphic novelists. He showed the earlier self-published, stapled copies of their work as well as the gleaming covers after publishers picked them up. He emphasized the importance of working with a supportive writing group and encouraged young authors to persevere. “Keep drawing and writing, even when nobody buys your books!”
Gene Luen Yang chimed in at the end of the keynote address. Mr. Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997 Mr. Yang received a Xeric Grant for this fist comic, “Gordon Yamamoto and the Kind of the Greeks.” He has since written and drawn a number of titles, including his first graphic novel for which he was a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. He is currently the fifth appointment as the National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, where he has been promoting his platform, Reading Without Walls. Mr. Yang challenged every reader to explore the world through books beyond their comfort zones.
In the closing address, Raina Telgemeier was interviewed by Mr. Yang about her early work as a first-grade student to connect to the elementary and middle school audience. She walked them through her childhood into her professional writing and illustration career.
Hicklebee’s Books, an independent children’s bookstore in Willow Glen, promoted this year’s DSJ Young Authors Book Festival. They were on-site with a collection of books from the bestselling authors and illustrators. Students and family members could purchase these books for the various book signings at this event. It was inspirational for these budding authors to have the opportunity to rub noses with these bestselling creators.
With more than 300 participants, the first annual Diocese of San Jose’s Young Authors Book Festival was a huge success.
Afterwards, Saint Victor, Saint John Vianney, Saint Leo the Great, Sacred Heart Nativity, Holy Family, and Saint Justin schools chose to host their own award ceremonies at their respective campuses to acknowledge the Teacher’s Choice and Principal Award winners. This is a way to include the entire student body in the event and spark the interest of new writers.
Theresa Yang plans to lead next year’s event in March 2018. Look for an announcement in the fall and secure the date on your calendar so that your family can attend the 2018 Diocesan Young Authors Book Festival.
“You can make anything by writing,” stated C.S. Lewis. Help to make the 2018 event as extraordinary as possible for the youth of our diocesan schools.
All who are interested in joining the 2018 event planning team should please contact Mrs. Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org.