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An African Journalist's Take on the 2013 Texas Book Festival

KUT News
KUT’s visiting journalist takes in books for sale at the Texas Book Festival this weekend.";

Lorrencia Nkrumah is a visiting journalist from Ghana, West Africa. As part of an international exchange program, she is in the KUT newsroom in Austin, Texas. This weekend, she took in the 2013 Texas Book Festival. “From my point of view it was phenomenal,” she says. “It has been two fun days of great books and wonderful authors amid good songs and nice cuisine.”

Thousands of people thronged this year’s Texas Book Festival at the State Capitol the last weekend of October. The annual event honors and celebrates authors for their contributions to literature and ideas in the state of Texas.

This year’s event was a mixture of good songs, finger-licking foods and a general conducive atmosphere for learning about new books and meeting new people. Over 230 authors attended this year’s event.

For me, as an African journalist, it was a great opportunity to interact with world-famous bestselling authors whose contributions to literature cannot be overlooked.

On Saturday, one of my first stops was to the music tent where James McBride and his Good Lord Bird Band brought  the gospel spirit to the festival. With his easy-to-learn gospel songs, he urged the crowd to ‘’get your praise on’’ as it clapped and tapped its feet to the music.

Books such as “Dallas 1963” by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis sold fast at the book tent. (“Dallas 1963” chronicles the tense political climate in Texas prior to the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 at Dealey Plaza.)

Parents who were at the book tent for kids also found books by Jon Agee – author and illustrator of many beloved books for children, including “Terrific,” “Milo's Hat Trick,” “The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau,” and “Nothing.”

In the House Chamber of the Texas Capitol on Saturday, “Goosebumps” author R.L Stine spoke to a packed house.

"My job is to give kids the creeps!” Stine said.

Profits from the book festival go toward libraries, schools and other programs promoting literacy in Texas. The event has contributed over $2.5 million in grants to almost 600 libraries in the state. In addition, it has donated an estimated 49,000 books to children in Texas schools.

Nkrumah’s work in the U.S. is funded by the U.S. State Dept. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by the International Center for Journalists.