November 2023 Meeting

Planning Teen Bookfest By the Bay
November 4, 2023

Ms. Ana Lisa Garza Lawhon, President of Teen Bookfest by the Bay Planning Committee, engaged AAUW members with her informative and joyful presentation of the yearly Teen Bookfest by the Bay gathering.

A native Corpus Christian who received her degrees at Del Mar College and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, with an emphasis in Reading,  Ms. Lawhon taught with CCISD for six years before embracing a librarian position for 24 years and retiring in 2022.

The leader in her second term as President, Ms. Lawhon works with other officers and many members of the Planning Committee to organize the yearly event.  To our meeting she was accompanied by Jennifer Belcher, Hospitality Chairperson.

In 2012 Ms. Lawhon and another librarian drove students to the Austin Teen Bookfest.  Unfortunately, their students had little time to attend the activities.  She and her fellow librarian decided to join forces with other school librarians to organize the Bookfest by the Bay, now in its eighth year.

In February 2023, the Bookfest, held at the American Bank Center, attracted 7,500 teens from Coastal Bend school districts, Robstown, Kingsville, Orange Grove, Goliad, Refugio, Pharr, and San Juan in the Valley.

Seven panels were attended by students who interacted with their favorite authors from across the country, excited to ask questions and to receive encouragement to continue their budding talent.  A Writer’s Workshop was offered by Del Mar College faculty members, and an Illustrators’ Workshop and a Graphic Novel workshop were provided by nationally-known artists.  Many teens brought their favorite books for book signing sessions with authors.

Branch President, Catherine Cox; Speaker Ana Lisa Garza Lawhon, Planning Committee President, Teen Bookfest by the Bay; Branch Program Vice President, Diana Cardenas; Jennifer Belcher, Hospitality Chairperson, Teen Bookfest by the Bay.

Ms. Lawhon treated our members to photos of teens engaged in panel discussions with favorite authors and families enjoying the activities.

She read a letter from an author who praised the event and the planners.  He said that he was enthused by his interaction with hundreds of youngsters, families, fellow authors, and the industrious planning committee.  He noted, “Teen Bookfest provides attendees with memorable experiences and treats us like family.”

Ms. Lawhon noted that Bookfest will be held on February 24, 2024, at the Education Service Center Region II, 209 N. Water Street, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Teachers who are involved with Bookfest will receive credit toward their teaching certification.

Ms. Lawhon thanked AAUW for funds donated to the Friends of Corpus Christi Public Libraries, which Michelle Balis, Director for Neyland Public Library, earmarks for the Teen Bookfest by the Bay authors’ dinner.

— Story by Dr. Diana Cardenas