Last year, the Teen Advisory Board and Amanda Fensch worked to bring together YA readers and 12 local authors to the Pickerington Public Library with signings and Q&A’s. This year, the event is back and even bigger! Not only has the author attendance practically doubled – 20 amazing YA authors will be in attendance – but it will be held in a larger venue and allow attendees to engage even more with their favorite authors.
The free, all day event will take place at Pickerington North high school. There will be discussions, writing workshops, and book signings where readers will be able to interact with their favorite authors and even have the chance to meet YA authors they might not have read before.
While the event is open to anyone who wishes to attend, the event is focused on connecting teens with the authors who write just for them. The event couldn’t be made possible without the contributions authors, teachers, librarians, and parents but the teens are the focus of the event and have played a vital role since the idea first came to mind.
The PPL Teen Advisory Board was crucial to the success of the festival last year and this year, they’ve taken on an even bigger role. Not only were they responsible for the advertising event within the community and searching for sponsors, they’re responsible for leading the teams of volunteers. Fensch couldn’t praise the teens enough.
“These guys are amazing – they’re honest and straightforward with me. One of the biggest things I’ve taken away from what they’ve told me is that they’ve never heard of an opportunity for teens like the Author Fest in this area, in Ohio. They’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
Many people hear about events like Book Con, YALLFest, and the most recent YALLWest, but these events take place on the coasts. For teens in the middle of the country, events of this size aren’t as common. But the importance of these opportunities cannot be over looked.
“Reading and literacy are vitally important, not just as a goal that public libraries support, but especially to and for teens. We’ve read the articles on how YA fiction isn’t ‘legitimate’ or ‘important’ but I can tell you, I see every day how important YA books are to teens. I want to bring the community – and not just Pickerington, but Columbus – together to support teen readers and their teachers, librarians, parents and more.”
These events are fun for communities, teens especially, but more than that, they serve to help connect teens with the authors they look up to.
“One-on-one and small group interaction with authors is so important. These talented people who write books just for teens understand something pivotal to an event like this. They are, in the eyes of many teens – and librarians! – a kind of celebrity,” said Fensch. “YA authors are a special breed and how they interact with teens at events like ours is key to making the entire day successful.”
Authors are no strangers to libraries. Many found their homes within the pages of books and shelves of libraries and for teenagers who do the same, it’s an amazing opportunity to interact with the adults who write for them.
“We’ve had YA authors in the library, not as part of the PPL YA Author Fest, and I always see a couple of really great things happen afterwards: that author’s books fly off our shelves and I hear chatter among the teens who come in about so-and-so they saw talk and how it was amazing,” said Fensch.
“It’s an investment in our community, in our local high schools, and ultimately, in our patrons. If we can encourage teens to come to us, make it known that we’ll offer help and opportunities as much as we can, and can do this through things like the Author Fest, we’re investing in our future, even if it’s in some small way.”
Some authors attending the event such as Emery Lord, Erin McCahan, and Mindy McGinnis are Author Fest alumni. Others like Cinda Williams Chima, Colleen Clayton, and Carey Corp will be new to the event.
To learn more about the event, visit the Pickerington Public Library’s website or follow their Tumblr. If you’re a teen in grades 10-12 in the Pickerington community and are interested in volunteering, learn more on the library’s website on how to be part of the event.