Annual Report


From the Board Chair and Executive Director

The Texas Book Festival's mission connects authors and readers through experiences that celebrate the culture of literacy, ideas, and imagination. Our programs improve literacy and literary engagement throughout the state, thanks to the investment of board members, donors, sponsors, partners, and volunteers who believe in the power of reading to change lives.


2018 marked the annual Festival Weekend’s twenty-third year. Last October 27-28, more than 50,000 attendees turned out to meet more than 300 authors, such as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jacqueline Woodson, James Beard-nominated chef Edward Lee, PEN award-winning debut writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, astronaut Scott Kelly, Pulitzer Prize-nominated Tommy Orange, and the legendary Sandra Cisneros.

In 2018, we continued sharing the joy of reading throughout the state, in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and Midland. In addition, libraries across the state received grants to put more books on their shelves. 

The work we do would not be possible without your involvement and support. Thank you for sharing our commitment to literacy and literary culture in Texas.

Warm regards,       

Sarah Queen

Board Chair

Lois Kim

Executive Director

The Lone Star State

Every year, we strive to inspire more Texans across the state to love reading, through the annual Festival Weekend, the Texas Teen Book Festival, Reading Rock Stars, Library Grants, and statewide programming. Here are just a few of the highlights from 2018.

Reading Rock Stars in the Rio Grande Valley

On March 1-2, we drove down I-35 to bring Reading Rock Stars to the Rio Grande Valley. Between five Title I public elementary schools and eight authors, we gave out more than 3,100 books! For many of these children, this was the first book of their very own, and each child received their book personally from the author.

Reading Rock Stars in Fort Worth

On January 8, we returned to Dallas with Reading Rock Stars. The next day, we made the short drive out to Fort Worth to launch the pilot Reading Rock Stars program at Rosemont Elementary with authors Vanessa Brantley Newton, Roda Ahmed, and John August. The school gave the authors a warm Texas welcome, and more than 650 children received their own signed book!

Texas Library Association in Dallas

On April 3-6, we attended the annual Texas Library Association Conference in Dallas. We met hundreds of librarians from across the state, and thanked them for their hard work. On April 5, we announced more than $100,000 in Texas Library Grants to 48 libraries. These grants are for collection enhancement and pay for the books that each community needs the most. These books include Spanish YA books, grief counseling books, large-print novels, and children's STEM books.

Fiesta Medal at the San Antonio Book Festival

On April 7, we returned to the San Antonio Book Festival with our second Fiesta Medal! We always love to celebrate the joy of reading and raise awareness about the annual Festival and all our programs with the San Antonio community.

H.W. Brands in Midland

On May 31, the team headed west to Midland to host a literary salon with author, historian, and UT Austin professor, H.W. Brands. He read from and presented his book, The General Vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War.

Then back in Austin for Reading Rock Stars, Real Reads, the Texas Teen Book Festival, and the Festival Weekend!


Since 1995, the Texas Book Festival has given more than 100,000 books to Title I elementary students and more than $3 million to Texas public libraries. 

A few of our favorite 2018 stats:

  • After Reading Rock Stars, schools reported an average 77% increase in interest in reading, 40% increase in interest in writing, 30% increase in interest in art, and 53% reported greater excitement about learning overall!

  • 60% of Reading Rock Stars schools reported that this was probably the first book owned by the child.

  • TBF awarded a library grant in all ten Texas Library Association's districts.

  • Sylvia Acevedo, author, rocket scientist, and Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA, met with local Girl Scout troops!

In 2018, the TBF:
Awarded more than $100,000 to Texas public libraries
through our Library Grants program.
Gave 48 libraries collection-enhancement grants
Gifted 10,800 books to elementary school students in Title I schools in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and the Rio Grande Valley through Reading Rock Stars.
Coordinated 47 author visits, connecting authors to students
Gave out nearly 400 books to
teen readers through Real Reads
Made an impact in 17 Title I schools in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and the Rio Grande Valley
"I love the enthusiasm the authors/illustrators bring to the campus. They teach the kids to follow their dreams and find their passion. The students at our school would not be able to afford these books and to have them signed by the author is an added bonus." - Reading Rock Stars teacher

Festival Weekend

50,000 people attended the 23rd annual Festival Weekend, held on October 27-28 in and around the Texas State Capitol. Special features this year included the Next Chapter middle grade tent, Pete Souza at the Long Center, chef Edward Lee at James Beard-nominated restaurant Olamaie, and the Latinx Lit Tent. Even as the Festival grows and evolves, it remains free and open to the public, continuing to welcome and inspire all book lovers.

Book Sales

Through book sales, the TBF is able to secure award-winning and popular authors, and support the strong reputation of the Festival with authors and publishers. In 2018, official Texas Book Festival bookseller BookPeople reported $285,135 in book sales. A portion of all sales supports the Texas Book Festival. Thank you for supporting authors, local business, and the Texas Book Festival!

One of our most important strategic goals is to feature authors for everyone, and represent a diversity of voices that reflects the diversity of Texas. In 2018, we featured 306 authors! Of these authors, 105 were Texas-based! The authors lineup included 83 adult fiction authors, 93 adult non-fiction authors, and 91 children and YA authors.  Demographics self-reported by the authors included 142 authors of color, 173 female authors, and 26 LGBTQUIA+ authors. Thank you for helping to keep the Texas Book Festival accessible, welcoming, and safe for all authors and attendees!

Texas Writer Award

We were thrilled to honor author and former Director of the Michener Center for Writing, James Magnuson, with the Texas Writer Award. His contributions to Texas literature are evident in so many of the incredible Michener authors at the Festival.

Jan Hughes Volunteer Award

We recognized Festival Volunteer Chairs and Capitol Monitors Laramie Stroud and Curtis Smith for their long-standing and invaluable service to the Festival. This award is in honor of Jan Hughes, the Texas Book Festival's former Board Chair and longtime volunteer.

Lit Crawl
Where Literature Hits the Streets

A collaboration between the Texas Book Festival and the Litquake Foundation, Lit Crawl Austin celebrated its eighth year of irreverent literary programming. On Saturday, October 27, more than 2,000 book enthusiasts and more than 50 authors and poets joined us on East Cesar Chavez for a night of performances, trivia matches, and all-ages storytelling sessions. Participating authors included Tommy Orange, Rebecca Makkai, Jamel Brinkley, Meg Gardiner, and Alexander Chee. Partnering organizations included The Texas Observer, Black Poets Speak Out, Story Bar, Gulf Coast, Awst Press, Austin Bat Cave, fields, Deep Vellum, Space Squid, American Short Fiction, and Mystery People. Thank you to the generous venues that made this possible!

Texas Teen Book Festival

The Texas Teen Book Festival was held at St. Edward's University on Saturday, October 8, 2018. More than 5,000 teens, YA fans, teachers, and librarians spent the day meeting authors, discovering new favorite books, and celebrating the joy of reading with their peers.

Some of our favorite Texas Teen Book Festival highlights include:​

  • The brand new Studio Create! Centrally located, this unique interactive space brought our partners together under one tent roof to share interactive experiences with Festival attendees, including book-making, pin decorating, and photo ops from the most popular YA books.

  • A costume contest sponsored by Fierce Reads! While a young Mary Poppins took the grand prize, other favorites included Camp Half Blood, Harry Potter and friends, Queen of Hearts, and three generations of Shadow Hunters. 

  • Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin, not only presented on a panel and gave a keynote, but also gave a private session to a group of KIPP Austin students, letting them ask all their questions about the book and being an author.

Thank you to our generous TTBF sponsors and partners:

H-E-B, Brigid Cockrum and Family, BookPeople, St. Edward's University, Humanities Texas, Buena Vista Foundation, 3M, Penguin Teen, Delacorte Press, Epic Reads,  Barrio Writers, and We Need Diverse Books.. 

First Edition Literary Gala

In 2018, the First Edition Literary Gala was held at the Four Seasons in Austin, Texas on Friday, October 26. The Gala featured authors Michael Beschloss, Celeste Ng, Luis Alberto Urrea, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jake Silverstein of The New York Times Magazine was the emcee. Children's author Vanessa Brantley-Newton shared her experiences from Reading Rock Stars that very morning. ​Overall, the Gala raised more than $721,000 for the Texas Book Festival! 

See you at the 2019 First Edition Literary Gala on Friday, October 25, 2019.

Organizational Income and Expenses

We are grateful for every individual donor, foundation, and corporation that supports the Texas Book Festival's operating budget of $1.5 million. Notable campaigns and new supporters included $13,063.54 from individual donors during Amplify Austin. First-time grants include funding from the Sid Richardson Foundation for the Reading Rock Stars pilot program in Fort Worth, the Zale Foundation for a Reading Rock Stars program in Dallas, and the Topfer Family Foundation for Real Reads.

Social Media Engagement

Look back at a few of your favorite posts from the year!

Don't miss the latest events, news, and literary news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

2018 Organization

 Board of Directors
  • Laura Bush, Honorary Chair

  • Sarah Queen, Board Chair

  • Sarah Bird

  • Gigi Edwards Bryant

  • Josefina Casati

  • Ken Cho

  • Michelle Diggs

  • Mary Herman

  • Regina Montoya

  • Anna Near

  • Amy Paddock

  • Ana Ruelas

  • Dave Shaw

  • Maya Payne Smart

  • Heidi Marquez Smith

  • Brian D. Sweany

  • Darryl Tocker

  • Carol Wagner

  • Leslie Ward

  • Darren Woody

  • Spencer Wells

  • Zeynep Young

Major Donors
  • Gold Leaf - $25,000

    • Betsy and Hughes Abell - Buena Vista Foundation

    • Marc and Suzanne Winkelman 

    • St. David's Healthcare

    • The Tocker Foundation

  • Authors' Circle - $15,000+

    • Laura Bush and President George Bush

    • Karen and Ray Brimble - One Skye Foundation

    • Kay and Elliot Cattarulla

    • Regan and Billy Gammon

    • Herbert Simon

    • Maria and Darren Woody

    • Katherine Wright - Wright Family Foundation​​

  • All 2018 Festival Sponsors

  • H-E-B, Presenting Sponsor

  • AT&T, Presenting Sponsor

  • Brigid Cockrum & Family

  • Texas Monthly

  • Kirkus Reviews

  • Tocker Foundation

  • Buena Vista Foundation

  • Cental Market

  • Austin American-Statesman

  • C-SPAN

  • Pentagram

  • St. David's HealthCare

  • Loewy Law Firm

  • Cirrus Logic

  • City of Austin Cultural Arts Division

  • Lois Kim                   Executive Director

  • Julie Wernersbach     Literary Director

  • Claire Burrows  Development Director

  • Lea Bogner              Outreach Manager

  • Lydia Melby              Literary and Communication Coordinator

  • Maris Finn                        Financial and Administrative Coordinator

  • Nicole Wielga

        Volunteer and Logistics 


Thank You!

Thank you. Your financial support and advocacy are essential to our success. The TBF Board and its small staff work mightily to earn your trust that every dollar is put to good use to improve literacy and enrich literary culture in Texas. We hope you will support us this year, and in the years ahead.

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