Waco teen book festival encourages literacy with author panels, book signings, prizes

The free festival featured 17 authors from Waco and across the country
Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 5:05 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Recent reports from the Pew Research Center show that among U.S. children and teens, reading for fun has become less common as more kids opt to go online instead.

One Waco couple is hoping to change that statistic with the inaugural CenTex Teen Book Fest on the Brazos, which took place at Indian Spring Middle School Saturday.

Hosted by Lit Waco, a nonprofit created by Keith and Tracy Guillory to promote literacy, the all-day event intended to connect young readers, and specifically teens, with books and the authors who write them.

“It’s never too late to learn, it’s never too late to fall in love with reading, and picking up books and growing in those areas,” Keith Guillory, one of the co-founders of Lit Waco and organizers of the fest, said. “And so that’s why we really focus a lot on teens.”

The free festival featured 17 visiting authors – from Waco and across the country – who participated in panel discussions, book signings, writing workshops and more for the eager readers in attendance.

“A lot of times, a kid will pick up a book, they don’t know who wrote it, they never get the opportunity to sit down and talk to an author,” Keith said.

Keith’s wife and fellow co-founder, Tracy Guillory, agreed.

“Yeah, and to also show them that they can also be an author,” Tracy said of the event’s purpose. “It’s not all about being a basketball player or football player, or a doctor or lawyer. You can be an author.”

For 11-year-old attendee Jai’den Christian, he says reading allows him to learn more about history and his culture.

“I read two books about Frederick Douglass and learned about how he was important to Black history,” he told KWTX.

As for Christian’s aunt, Londria Gilmore, another one of the event’s attendees, the fest is a way to show representation through literacy.

“A lot of people, especially in this neighborhood, this is East Waco, some people do not have a whole lot of resources,” Gilmore said. “So I think bringing about and showing diversity within the authors that are here today, that showcases representation to where we are more inclined to pick up a book with an author that looks like us.”

The Guillorys’ hope is that Saturday’s event inspires change among young readers in all aspects of their lives.

“We wanna see reading scores go up, we wanna see our young people just grow and just broaden themselves from this event,” Keith said.