||On Saturday, April 23rd, thirty-five Irma Marsh Middle School students hopped on a Castleberry ISD bus with their Teacher-Librarian, Doeni Onco, three reading teachers (Mikie Stanfield, Kelli Clements and Adra Stephenson), along with two parents, Mr. and Mrs. Baez. They were all headed to the biggest teen literary event in Texas, the North Texas Teen Book Festival at the Irving Convention Center.
It is estimated that over 7,000 people were in attendance at this one-day event which showcased over 70 Young Adult and Middle Grade authors with big names like James Dashner (Maze Runner), Holly Black (Spiderwick Chronicles) , Gordon Korman (Swindle series), Sarah Dessen (Saint Anything) , Ally Condie (Matched series) , and Marie Lu (Legend series).
IMMS students eagerly attended, and participated in panel discussions about all genres of books and the writing process. They purchased books and had them signed by their favorite authors. Some students even won raffle prizes of free books and book-related paraphernalia.
“They were entirely engaged, well-behaved, involved. . . .They were excited and thrilled, I just think it was very uplifting for them in a sense that those that like to read now, especially after that experience, will be life-long readers, if they weren’t already,” said Adra Stephenson, one of the IMMS teachers who was a volunteer chaperone for the field trip.
Another volunteer chaperone, IMMS reading teacher, Kelli Clements, believes students would be encouraged to seek their goals and view writing as a possible career choice: “I think the best thing about the trip is that the students got to see that authors are real people and that writing is an actual profession they can strive towards.”
The North Texas Teen Book Festival was a lifetime experience these students are not likely to forget. They met authors, got books signed, and had an “awesome” time. Mrs. Onco shared some of the students’ reactions on her blog. Click here to see them on The Lions Share.
Three students from Ms. Stanfield’s class were so appreciative that they pooled their money and purchased a signed copy of Jeramey Kraatz’s second book: The Cloak Society: Villian’s Rising for their Teacher-Librarian, Mrs. Onco. She was touched and hopes this experience will encourage these and other students who hear about this experience, to become life-long readers.