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From Our Executive Director:
It has been a longtime personal goal of mine to deliver a literary field trip experience to the partner schools of our Authors in Schools program. I remember every school field trip I had as a child growing up in the Rio Grande Valley. Those days showed me in a real, tangible way what I gained from the books that I read: that the world was so much bigger than my everyday exposures.
Research shows that field trips make learning concepts more memorable. They spark passion and curiosity. I knew I wanted students in San Antonio’s Title I schools to have a culturally rewarding experience that was rooted in books.
Which is why I am so incredibly proud that on October 17, 2023 the San Antonio Book Festival (SABF) held its first-ever field trip version of its educational initiative, the Authors in Schools program. In partnership with the Carver Community Cultural Center, SABF brought celebrated children’s author JACQUELINE WOODSON to San Antonio as part of her tour for her latest book, Remember Us. More than 1,100 students from partner schools got to hear the author talk about her book, her reading preferences, and how she got into writing.
“Students were riveted to hear Ms. Woodson’s story—how she used her words to create a life,” said Janet Hester, SAISD Director for Secondary Reading/Language Arts. “They loved the experience of being in the historic Carver and engaging with reading and writing in this special way.”
“[Partnering with the San Antonio Book Festival] has significantly bolstered our mission to enhance literacy within our schools,” said Brad Cloud, EISD Director of Instructional Technology.
SABF’s partner school districts for the Authors in Schools program—San Antonio Independent School District and Edgewood Independent School District—brought students from James Russell Lowell Middle School, Edgar Allen Poe Stem Dual Language Middle School, the Advanced Learning Academy, Gus Garcia University School, and Las Palmas Leadership School for Girls. The Carver Community Cultural Center worked with its own partner schools and network of homeschooled youth to bring students from Essence Preparatory Public School, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, IDEA Carver Academy, Kriewald Road School of the Arts, IDEA Eastside, Booker T. Washington Elementary, Young Men’s Leadership Academy, For The Culture Homeschool, and AMISTAD Black Homeschool.
Thanks to a generous donation from the John and Florence Newman Foundation, each student in attendance received a free copy of Remember Us signed by Jacqueline Woodson herself. They also had an opportunity to interact with the author during a post-presentation meet and greet. My heart was so full watching hundreds of young readers smile as they met a world-famous author up close, as she handed them her book. They asked for photos with her; they told her how much they had loved her previous books; they shared their own writing ambitions. It was such a special day.
Special thanks goes out to the staff at the Carver Community Cultural Center for their hard work on this valuable partnership, especially their fearless leader, Cassandra Parker-Nowicki. She and I have been dreaming up this particular event for months and we both gleefully handed over our copies of Brown Girl Dreaming for Jacqueline Woodson to sign. Thank you so much to district leadership at SAISD and Edgewood ISD. You made the field trip learning curve less painful and I’m so proud of what we’re accomplishing together for students.
This was the final event of the year for the San Antonio Book Festival. It was a glorious way to end the year…with a celebrated author motivating San Antonio’s youth to read more. I can’t wait to bring even more writers and readers together in 2024.
About Jacqueline Woodson: National Book Award-winner and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Jacqueline Woodson is one of the nation’s most acclaimed authors writing for children and adults. With nearly 40 books to her credit, Woodson’s bestsellers include Red at the Bone, Another Brooklyn, and the National Book Award-winning Brown Girl Dreaming. Among her many accolades, Woodson served as the Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015-2017, was the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2018-2019, and was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the most prestigious international award recognizing authors and illustrators of children’s literature, in 2020. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.