Teens Love Books, Too

by Sofia Tokar

Over the last eight years, the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival (also known as TBF)—held on the Nazareth campus and hosted by the School of Education—has grown into a successful, much-anticipated event celebrating teenagers, authors, and reading.

The festival, held annually in mid-May, is a perennial hit with authors, librarians, teachers, and especially teens, a population of readers often overlooked in libraries. Dedicated to adolescents, the event is designed to encourage their reading, demonstrate their value within the community, and connect them with popular and award-winning authors of teen and young adult literature.

“Holding the festival at Nazareth makes it accessible to large numbers from all over the state while still maintaining an informal close-knit environment. It is a friendly place for teens to connect with college students, some of whom will one day become teachers and librarians themselves,” says Laura Jones, Ph.D., associate professor of language, literacy, and technology in the SOE.

Carly Maldonado ’12 began volunteering with the festival back in high school. “I knew from the first year’s turnout that this event would keep growing,” she says. “For many teens, it’s a chance to learn about their favorite authors while discovering new ones.”

TBF currently features more than 30 authors (including Nazareth alumnus Charles Benoit ’86) and brings approximately 2,000 teens—some from as far away as Albany, N.Y.—to campus each year. In addition, nearly 100 teens volunteer as panel moderators, session organizers, author assistants, and in other leadership roles.

The Nazareth community also participates and contributes. Sarah Wilcox ’11, ’13G, an education major and current student in the SOE’s graduate literacy education program, attended the festival in 2011 as a spectator, then in 2012 as a parking attendant and festival guide, and now helps fundraise year-round for the event.

“In addition to promoting and advocating literacy, the festival brings together teens and authors in a relaxed, engaging environment where they can connect and learn from each other,” she explains.

Teens are central to the festival—and Nazareth’s student-volunteers are able to witness the motivation and passion of the teenagers they will one day work with, explains Jones. “These future teachers, librarians, and authors are the people who will help foster and develop lifelong reading habits in teens. TBF is a chance to celebrate that mission together as a community.”

The eighth annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival will be held Saturday, May 18 at Nazareth College. The day-long festival is free and open to the public, but seating preference is given to teens.

Sofia Tokar is the assistant editor in Nazareth’s marketing department.

Teen Book Festival 2012

Book lovers crowd the popular Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival in 2012.

For more information, visit teenbookfestival.org.