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Event Recap: NoVa Teen Book Festival by Michelle Biwer

IMG-0783The 5th Annual NoVa Teen Book Festival was held this past Saturday, March 10th in Arlington, VA. It is a completely free event to attend, although advanced registration is encouraged. Due to partnerships with local schools and public libraries, the majority of attendees were teens although all are welcome. 30+ Young Adult authors were present for various programming throughout the day, most of them local to the DC area. Anna-Marie McLemore was the wonderful keynote speaker. She spoke about her childhood growing up as a queer Mexican-American, the obstacles she faced from society due to her identity, and how she gained the confidence to write the queer, Latinx, magical realism she publishes today.

It was my second time attending NoVa Teen and the events team has made this festival even bigger and better for educators and for teens. There was a variety of panels, and attendees could choose from at least 3 events going on at any given time. In addition to the main panels, there was an all day “game room” that was popular with teens who watched a rotating set of authors fail at charades and Balderdash. A feature I haven’t seen at other book festivals were small group breakout sessions. If you chose to attend a breakout session you had the valuable opportunity to pick the brain of one or two authors in a small classroom setting. At the end of the day, most of the authors stayed to sign their books and meet attendees.

The festival also had a series of programming for educators. I attended a few events where authors booktalked their books and educators had the opportunity to ask questions about school visits, the age groups their books was most popular with, etc…I had no idea how many debut novelists were in the DC Metro area and meeting some of them has inspired me to look into setting up more author events at my own library.

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