Kathy G. Short
College of Education
This year, the Tucson Festival of Books expanded the offerings for youth and their families.
In addition to the hundreds of authors, illustrators and journalists who write for adult genres, the Tucson Festival of Books includes those whose work targets the younger population.
The festival, which will be held Saturday and Sunday on the University of Arizona campus, will feature booth, activity tents, an entertainment stage, a circus and more than 50 sessions geared specifically toward adolescents, families and educators.
"You have the large presentations with a mixture of audiences, but then we always wanted a space where kids could have a more informal interaction with the authors," said Kathy Short, director of Worlds of Words, a resource center and children's library housed in the UA's College of Education.
At the center, children will be able to create "postcards for hope" for children in Haiti, Short said.
And in advance of the festival, the center is hosting a children's literature mini-conference, "Exploring a Sense of Belonging through Literature." The conference will be held Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. with Ying Chang Compestine and Adam Rex.
During the conference, Chang Compestine will discuss her new book, " A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts," which will include a slide show. She also will talk about her novel, "Revolution is Not a Dinner Party," which includes personal stories of being raised in China during the country's Cultural Revolution.
Rex will discuss his work as an illustrator and talk about his picture book, "Frankstein Makes a Sandwich," formerly a New York Times bestseller. Rex and Chang Compestine also will sign books at the end of the conference.
The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Kiva Room of the UA's Education Building, 1430 E. Second St. Also during the festival, educators can earn professional development credit.
Youth and family-focused areas of the Tucson Festival of Books also include authors and illustrators of graphic novels, historical fiction books and those who have written about Muslim-American and Chinese-American culture.
"You're always looking for improvement from year to year and we've tried to focus on the workshops and youth activities," said Bill Viner, one of the festival founders.
The festival also will feature a storytelling stage, workshops for adults who want to write for children and teenagers and also a number of sessions on ways to effectively read to children and to engage them in talks about books.
"In today's world, there is a lot of competing media and a lot of places where children can get stories – through television, video and the Internet," Short said.
"One of the things for parents and educators is having a sense of how to engage kids with books and also in making sure they are getting a sense of a wide range of books," she said.
Events and presenters during the festival targeting youth and families include:
Another major feature will be the Ventana/Roche Science Pavilion, which is being presented by the UA's BIO5 Institute. There, adults and children will be able to extract their own DNA, learn about poison and test their brain power, among other things.
"There will be numerous children's and educational activities, so we're very happy to have this on board," said Viner, who also is chief executive officer of Pepper Viner Homes.
"We have more interactive children's entertainment and more exhibitors focused on children," Viner said. "From every point of view, it should be better."
Viner also mentioned that the BIO5 Institute is hosting the Science Stage, which will include workshops and discussions with writers. The Institute maintains a list of events on its Web site.
Overall, the events geared toward children, families and educators are meant to engage youth in reading and writing – during the festival and beyond, Short said. "We want to engage childrens' minds, rather than simply inform them."
Kathy G. Short
College of Education