2021 Texas Great Read Selection Marfa for the Perplexed Available Statewide as a Free e-Book

The Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has chosen Marfa for the Perplexed by Lonn Taylor as the Texas Great Read for 2021. Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select a title that represents the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival. The event showcases the importance of books and reading. In 2021, the 21st Library of Congress National Book Festival will take place virtually September 17-26. 

Texas Center for the Book invites Texans to read Marfa for the Perplexed and to take part in a statewide book club by using the hashtag #TXGreatRead on social media. For more information on the 2021 Texas Great Read program, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/greatreadtexas

In celebration of its selection as the 2021 Texas Great Read, Marfa for the Perplexed is now available to Texas residents as a freely accessible e-book thanks to E-Read Texas, TSLAC’s statewide public library e-book program at www.tsl.texas.gov/greatread2021ebook

About the Book

Marfa for the Perplexed is literary nonfiction, essays, and Texas history all rolled into one. Readers meet artists, priests, ranchers, movie stars, chili aficionados, and more in the rugged borderlands of the Big Bend country. This compilation brings people and historical events of Marfa, Alpine, Fort Davis, Presidio County, Mexico, and the surrounding area to life. The book became very popular and during one interview when asked what surprised him most when researching the stories in the book, Lonn confessed that he had not realized “how deep the scars left by a century of segregation and suspicion between Anglo and Hispanic residents were, or how hard younger members of both groups are working to heal them.”

About the Author

Lonn Wood Taylor’s career took him to many different locations around the country before he resettled in the Big Bend area. He was Director and Curator at the Winedale Historical Complex in Central Texas, Curator at the Dallas Historical Society, and Deputy Director of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe. In 1984 he went to Washington, DC, as the Historian and Director of public programs for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Described by the Washington Post as a “lively presence during his 18 years at the museum on the National Mall,” Lonn had a major role in preparing several of the museum’s permanent exhibits. One of his most renowned projects involved the history of the Star Spangled Banner which resulted in the book, The Star Spangled Banner: The Making of An American Icon. On the 200th anniversary of the battle that generated the anthem, Lonn was invited to appear on The Colbert Report, and, just in case Stephen Colbert asked, he memorized all four verses of Francis Scott Key’s song. His last work, Child of the Sun, a memoir of his childhood in the Philippines was published posthumously after his death in 2019.

In addition to Marfa for the Perplexed, the E-Read Texas collection currently includes more than 7,000 high-quality e-books from top publishers. While many of the e-books in the collection have limits on the number of simultaneous users, more than half the e-books are available for simultaneous use with no wait lists or holds. These titles are available to any resident of Texas via geolocation at https://e-readtx.biblioboard.com/home. Public libraries participating in the full E-Read Texas program can also access the entire collection of e-books via SimplyE, a free library app supported by the Amigos Library Consortia. Individuals are encouraged to visit their local library’s website to learn more about available digital resources.

Established in 1987, the Center for the Book seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. The Center builds partnerships with library professionals, educators, authors, publishers and booksellers who provide support to our shared mission of promoting a love of literature throughout the Lone Star State. The Texas Center for the Book is under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission at the Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas.

Students Invited to Participate in 2021-2022 Letters About Literature Texas Competition

Banner for Letters About Literature Texas

The Texas Center for the Book’s website is updated for the 2021-2022 Letters About Literature Texas contest, a program that invites students to respond to authors of books or poetry who have touched their lives. The contest is open to Texas students in grades 4 through 12.

Participants select a book, book series, essay, play poem, short story of speech that has made a lasting impact on their lives. They then write a personal letter to the author that reflects how they have been changed, inspired or motivated by the work they selected. State winners receive $100 and will be honored at 2022 Texas Library Association Conference.

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for 4th-12th graders under the direction of the Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The submissions will open on Nov. 4, 2021, and all submissions for the 2021 contest must be submitted on the new online submission platform by Dec. 17, 2021, 5:00 p.m. (CST). A permission form is required for all students who will be younger than 13 on Nov. 4, 2021.

To learn more about the contest, how to submit and to view winning entries from previous years, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/lettersaboutliterature.

The website also features an Educator Resources page including a new TEKS guide, printable bookmarks and student handouts, participation certificates, key dates, permission forms, and a step-by-step teaching guide featuring writing prompts. The site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions page, student and teacher submission guidelines, letters from past winner, videos from authors, and the official contest rules

2020 Texas Great Read Selection Butterfly Yellow Available Statewide as a Free e-Book

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) and the Texas Center for the Book are thrilled to announce that any resident of Texas will be able to read the 2020 Texas Great Read, Thanhhà Lại’s award-winning young adult novel Butterfly Yellow, free online through E-Read Texas, from Nov. 16 – Jan. 16. 

TSLAC is partnering with Biblioboard to make this and thousands of other e-books available to Texas residents. The Biblioboard website is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access it, no login or password required. And there are no simultaneous user restrictions, so that means there are no holds or waitlists. A special web page has been set up for Butterfly Yellow and can be accessed via the Texas Great Read web page by clicking on the “Read the Book” link.

In addition to the full text of the Butterfly Yellow e-book, readers and teachers across Texas will be able to access multimedia support materials, including interviews with the author, teaching guides, and other resources from Teaching Books/Book Connections. Libraries looking to promote the availability of the e-book to their patrons can visit the Texas Great Read webpage to download promotional graphics and blurbs to help in marketing.

Public libraries that participate in E-Read Texas can also access the Butterfly Yellow e-book through their SimplyE app, along with thousands of other e-books. E-Read Texas is a recently launched statewide e-book program made available to eligible public libraries in Texas. The collection currently includes more than 6,000 high-quality e-books from top publishers. While many of the e-books in the collection have limits on the number of simultaneous users, more than half the e-books are available for simultaneous use with no wait lists or holds. To learn more about E-Read Texas, please visit the E-Read Texas webpage, or contact Karen McElfresh.

A linkable graphic that has the text "Texas Great Read" and shows the book cover and the logos of the partnering organizations.

About the Book

In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.

Hằng is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Việt Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hằng has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.

About the Author

Thanhhà Lại is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out & Back Again, her debut novel in verse, winner of the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, and Listen, Slowly, honored with inclusion on numerous “book of the year” lists. Lại was born in Viêt Nam and lives in New York with her family. Lại is also the founder of Viet Kids Inc., a non-profit that changes the lives of Vietnamese students through the purchase of bicycles, tuition, uniforms, and rice. For information about Lại and her work, visit www.thanhhalai.com.

Students Invited to Participate in 2020-2021 Letters About Literature Texas Competition

The Texas Center for the Book has launched the 2020-2021 Letters About Literature Texas contest, a program that invites students to respond to authors of books or poetry who have touched their lives. The contest is open to Texas students in grades 4 through 12.

Participants select a book, book series, essay, play poem, short story of speech that has made a lasting impact on their lives. They then write a personal letter to the author that reflects how they have been changed, inspired or motivated by the work they selected. State winners receive $100 and will be honored at 2021 Virtual Texas Library Association Conference.

Image of girl reading a book. Includes text that reads: Letters about Literature Texas: Entries accepted November 4 - December 17, 2020.
Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for 4th-12th graders under the direction of the Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

All submissions for the 2020 contest must be submitted on the new online submission platform by Dec. 17, 2020, 5:00 p.m. (CST). A permission form is required for all students who will be younger than 13 on Nov. 4, 2020.

To learn more about the contest, how to submit and to view winning entries from previous years, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/lettersaboutliterature. The website also features an Educator Resources page including printable bookmarks and student handouts, participation certificates, key dates, permission forms, and a step-by-step teaching guide featuring writing prompts. The site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions page, student and teacher submission guidelines, letters from past winner, videos from authors, and the official contest rules.

Applications NOW BEING ACCEPTED for $200 Lone Star Día Grants from First Book

The Texas Center for the Book has partnered with First Book to help libraries and literacy nonprofits celebrate Children’s Day, Book Day!

The Lone Star Día Grant program is open to libraries and literacy nonprofit organizations serving children in need. We invite you to apply for a $200 credit toward brand new books from the First Book Marketplace to help support your upcoming Día celebration in April 2020!

To learn more about the guidelines and application process, visit our Lone Star Día page.

Please note, grants are awarded in the order they are received. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible. We have a limited number of Amazon gift cards to share with libraries and literacy nonprofits that do not qualify for First Book Marketplace. Therefore, be sure to both sign up with First Book and fill out the Lone Star Día Grant application to qualify.

Children's Day, Book Day. Lone Star Día
Book Grants Available, Spring 2020

Top Texas Indie Authors to be Honored at Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Image of books and logos

In November 2019, following a concerted effort by Library Journal and public librarian book reviewers across the state, books by Scott Semegran of Austin and Michelle Rene of Dallas were chosen as the two best independently published books in Texas. On February 6, both authors will be honored by the library and publishing communities for their accomplishments at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin. Semegran and Rene will also be eligible for the North America-wide 2020 Indie Author of the Year Award, which will be presented at the Public Library Association (PLA) conference in late February.

In addition to hearing from this year’s winners, attendees will get a snapshot of the emerging creative relationships forming between public libraries and independent authors and hear from librarians and publishing professionals in Texas about the state of indie and self-publishing. The event, which will be followed by a happy hour, also provides a valuable opportunity for networking among the Texas book community.

The Texas Author Project is part of the Indie Author Project (IAP), a larger effort focused on public libraries finding and elevating the best indie and self-published books across North America. IAP is a collaborative publishing and curation community that includes Library Journal and IAP regional indie book contests run across hundreds of North American libraries each year. IAP-curated collections make it easier for librarians to add curated and award-winning content from local and indie authors to their print and digital collections.

Mitchell Davis, CEO of Indie Author Project creator BiblioLabs, believes these partnerships provide a new vision for the discoverability of new writers and provide a valuable role for public libraries in the changing world of books and reading. “As the program has developed and matured over the past few years, we have built a network of hundreds of librarians who are directly engaged in finding and promoting their best local authors. The curated collections, including winners, finalists and shortlist eBooks of North American regional contests, represent the cream of the crop. We are so proud to work with libraries across Texas and look forward to working with our winning authors in Texas throughout the coming year,” says Davis.

The event is free and interested attendees can learn more and RSVP now at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/texas-author-project-awards-reception-tickets-88961505257.

For more information, please see the original press release.

Learn about the 2019-2020 Letters About Literature Contest!

We wanted to share the following information from our friends at the Texas Center for the Book about the 2019-2020 Letters About Literature Contest. You can find the complete press release here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/pressrelease/LAL2020

Letters About Literature Texas

The Texas Center for the Book has launched the 2019-2020 Letters About Literature Texas contest, a program that invites students to respond to authors of books or poetry who have touched their lives. The contest opened November 4, 2019, and is open to Texas students in grades 4 through 12.

Participants select a book, book series, essay, play poem, short story of speech that has made a lasting impact on their lives. They then write a personal letter to the author that reflects how they have been changed, inspired or motivated by the work they selected. State winners receive $100 and a trip to the 2020 Texas Library Association Conference.
 
All submissions for the 2020 contest must be submitted on the new online submission platform by December 17, 2019, 5:00 p.m. (CST).  A permission form is required for all students who will be younger than 13 on November 4, 2019.

To learn more about the contest, how to submit and to view winning entries from previous years, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/lettersaboutliterature. The website also features an Educator Resources page including printable bookmarks and student handouts, participation certificates, key dates, permission forms, and a step-by-step teaching guide featuring writing prompts. The site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions page, student and teacher submission guidelines, letters from past winner, videos from authors, and the official contest rules.

After administering the contest for 27 years, the Library of Congress (LOC), has decided to give state centers full control over their Letters About Literature programs. In Texas, we are committed to continuing the contest at the state level using the LOC’s rubric, standards and judging framework. Although there will not be a national prize, we will stick with our Texas tradition of awarding a $100 cash prize to winners in all three levels, as well as providing travel assistance to the LAL Texas award ceremony at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference.

For more information on Texas Center for the Book initiatives, a project of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/centerforthebook or contact Ms. Manley at rmanley@tsl.texas.gov or 512-936-2505.

Books Are GEMS Named 2019 Recipient of the Texas Center for the Book Literacy Award

We are sharing this news from our friends at the Texas Center for the Book!

The Texas Center for the Book has announced that Books Are GEMS is the recipient of the fourth annual Texas Center for the Book Literacy Award. This $2,000 award, which honors a qualified 501(c)3 organization that has made outstanding contributions to increasing literacy in Texas, is modeled on the Library of Congress’ annual literacy awards. Funded by the Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas (FLAT), the 2019 Literacy Awards also include two honorable mentions, awarded to the Austin-based Inside Books Project and Teen Bookfest by the Bay in Corpus Christi.

Books Are GEMS’ mission is to inspire children and empower families through literacy. A children’s bookstore located in El Paso’s beautiful lower valley, its programs have been growing in reach since its founding in 2003. Since then, more than 1.5 million books have been given away to local families.

All children who visit the bookstore may select six free children’s books (one new book and five gently used books) per month at no cost. Teachers may take up to 25 used children’s books twice per school year and have access to the Teacher Resource Room, where everything is free. Books Are GEMS partners with El Paso schools and organizations to distribute free books to children through various events organized throughout the year.

Through collaborations with El Paso Community College, the University of Texas at El Paso and several local high schools, students are trained to aid in general bookstore operations. This gives young adults the opportunity to fulfill school requirements while gaining new skills.

With a membership in the Rx to Read program, Books Are GEMS provides new books to local physicians to hand out to young patients with a “prescription” to read. Each participating pediatrician receives 50 books to distribute to patients. Studies of similar programs show that parents are more likely to read to young children if doctors encourage it. Those children also score six months ahead of their peers in literacy. The Rx to Read program has given out more than 30,000 books to date.

“Our little gem in El Paso, Texas, is honored to be recognized and receive this award,” said Books Are GEMS President Louie Gonzalez. “Our vision for El Paso is to ‘put a book into the hand of every child in our community, changing lives one book at a time.’ This award will support the Saturday Story Time program, putting at least 1,800 books in the hands of children and educators via our Six Free Books program.”

Honorable mention award recipients Inside Books Project and Teen Bookfest by the Bay will each receive an award of $500 in recognition of their efforts to promote reading and combat illiteracy.

Inside Books Project, founded in 1998, receives written requests from inmates for books and resource guides and sends publications back to the them; books become the personal property of the prisoner. In 2014, more than 18,000 requests were received, and Inside Books provided more than 35,000 free books to prisoners. During each volunteer session, dozens of volunteers learn about the hopes and challenges of Texas inmates from personally reading and responding to their requests.

Teen Bookfest by the Bay was founded in 2015 by a group of Corpus Christi Bay area school and public librarians for the express purpose of planning and providing an annual book festival for local teens. Librarians from school and public libraries in Corpus Christi, Orange Grove, Bishop, Aransas Pass, Gregory-Portland, Rockport, Robstown and other communities take part in the one-day event held every winter. Teens have the opportunity to meet published authors and to learn about the writing and publishing process. In the past, many librarians traveled with teens to other book festivals in Texas, the nearest of which is a three-hour drive from Corpus Christi. The goal of Teen Bookfest by the Bay is to bring that opportunity to students in the Corpus Christi Bay area who are unable to make that trip.

“We were delighted to receive 30 worthy applications from across the state in the fourth year of the Texas award. The purpose of this award is to highlight a winning organization, while promoting a greater appreciation and awareness of literacy efforts statewide,” said Texas Center for the Book Coordinator Rebekah Manley.

For more information on Texas Center for the Book initiatives, a project of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/centerforthebook or contact Ms. Manley at rmanley@tsl.texas.gov or 512-936-2505.

Established in 1987, the Center for the Book seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. The Center builds partnerships with library professionals, educators, authors, publishers and booksellers who provide support to our shared mission of promoting a love of literature throughout the Lone Star State. The Texas Center for the Book is under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission at the Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building in Austin, Texas.


$2,000 Texas Center for the Book Literacy award: Nominate a literacy-based organization by Sept. 1!

We’re passing along the following information from our friends at the Texas Center for the Book! For more information, please see the full press release.

TCFB Literacy Award Graphic

Dear Literacy Fan,

Please help a worthy, literacy-based organization receive $2,000. The short nomination form is due by Sept. 1.

The winning organization receives a $2,000 cash award to assist in its future work promoting reading and combating illiteracy. Additionally, an honorable mention recipient will receive $500. The Literacy Award is formally presented during the Annual Texas Authors Celebration that kicks off the Texas Book Festival in the fall.

Nonprofit organizations whose primary purpose is to support and encourage literacy are eligible. Anyone may submit a nomination, and eligible organizations are encouraged to self-nominate. This award is made possible by the Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas and was inspired by the Library of Congress Literacy Awards. The winner will receive the Texas Center for the Book’s nomination for the 2020 Library of Congress State Literacy Award.

While this award promotes partnerships with libraries, please note that library friends organizations, public libraries, school and academic libraries, and other library entities are not eligible for nomination. However, these entities are encouraged to nominate literacy organizations within their local and/or regional communities.

By Sept. 1, please nominate here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/literacyaward

Thank you for your time,

Rebekah

Rebekah Manley, MFA

Coordinator | Texas Center for the Book

Free Books and Webinar for Statewide Community Read

The Texas Center for the Book (TCFB) recently launched their second statewide community read. Read Across Texas – Know Your Neighbor: Cultivating Communities of Compassion kicks off this spring, with libraries throughout the state signing up to host reading and discussion programs.

Find out more at our webinar on Tues., Mar. 19 at 2:00pm Central when TCFB’s Coordinator Rebekah Manley will discuss the resources and book grants. Our special guest Rev. Jennifer Elisa Veninga, Ph.D. will give insight on leading conversations about compassion. Dr. Veninga is a Professor of Religious and Theological Studies from the School of Arts and Humanities at St. Edward’s University in Austin.

Please note, there are limited book grants available through the Read Acoss Texas program. If you are interested in doing this program, be sure to submit an application for your books asap: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexas