- October 15, 2013

Family Fun at the Texas Book Festival

Each fall, I look forward to being in the mix of the vibrant literary culture at the State Capitol during the Texas Book Festival. With more than 230 participating authors and over 40,000 attendees, the joy of reading is ever-present in this crowd of book lovers. My whole family enjoys hearing stories, meeting our favorite authors and illustrators, buying some new books, creating arts and crafts, listening to music, and eating something yummy from a local food truck. This festival is one of our favorite annual Austin events because it offers so much fun for kids and adults alike — most of which is free!

This year’s festival is coming up on October 26th and 27th, and it promises to be jam-packed with activities. Festival executive director, Lois Kim, notes that “For families, everything we offer at the Festival looks, smells, and tastes like free fun—stories read by the actual authors of favorite picture books, DIY craft activities, a kid fashion show emceed by Jon Scieskza and Mac Barnett.”


The festival includes several tented areas for children, sponsored by H-E-B, such as an area for read-alouds, a tent for hands-on activities, and a stage for entertainers. Events are scheduled all throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday. In fact, it can be hard to choose where to go and what to do from the great selection of offerings. On the Texas Book Festival website, you can create and save your own itinerary to print out and take with you to be sure you don’t miss any of your personal top picks. Want an overview? Below you can browse the full schedule of events for children — organized by tent location — for both Saturday and Sunday.


What’s Happening on Saturday, October 26, 2013?

Read Me a Story Tent (half-hour sessions with authors reading from their latest books):

Children’s Activity Tent:

  • 10am – Austin Dog Alliance and Author Marcia Goldman present Therapy Dogs – meet Lola and the rest of the Bow Wow Reading Dogs.
  • 11am – Storybook Character Fashion Show – come dressed as your favorite storybook character and walk the runway!
  • 12pm – All over the Alphabet – fun with alphabet activities, crafts and stories with Rawson Saunders teachers.
  • 1pm – Tour the Town: A Patchwork Quilt of Austin – create your own scene with the author, Allison Amador, and illustrator, Tammy Stanley, of Goodnight Austin: A bedtime book for all who {heartAustin.
  • 2pm – TLA Presents 2x the Fun – learn how to expand your child’s reading experiences with fun activities you can both share after reading award-winning 2×2 books!
  • 3 – 5pm – Outside Voice and Slow Family Living – providing fun exercises to teach kids and parents how to use storytelling to create connections in the day to day.

Children’s Entertainment Tent (One hour performances from local children’s entertainers):

  • 10am – Magician Kent Cummins
  • 11am – The Biscuit Brothers
  • 12pm – Fiction Contest Awards presented by Kirkus Reviews
  • 1pm – Poetry Fun with Rawson Saunders students
  • 2pm – TBA
  • 3pm – Boitumelo: Songs and Stories of South Africa
  • 4pm – Mr. Johnny and Sharon

Scary Bonus on Saturday! 

  • R.L. Stine, 1-2pm, House Chamber Bestselling Midsummer Night’s Scream author R.L. Stine will discuss his spooky stories.
  • Lit Crawl, Oct. 26, 8pm If your children are big fans of the creepy stories of R.L. Stine, they’re in for a big treat. He’ll join up with Good Night Zombie author James Preller for a Lit Crawl event that will give you goosebumps. Creep over to the cemetery, and bring a flashlight, and plan to arrive early, as this event is sure to be packed. Texas State Cemetery, 909 Navasota St (enter at east gate, located on Comal St. between 7th and 11th)

What’s Happening on Sunday, October 27, 2013?

Read Me a Story Tent (half-hour sessions with authors reading from their latest books):

Children’s Activity Tent:

  • 11am – Create a Calavera! Get ready for Dia de los Muertos by coloring or crafting your own paper calavera.
  • 12 – 3pm – KLRU/PBS Kids Transmedia Demonstration Station.
  • 3:15pm – Made by You! Come by to create your own Texas Book Festival souvenir.

Children’s Entertainment Tent (One hour performances from local children’s entertainers):

  • 11 am – Hand to Mouth Puppet Theatre with Ellen Scott
  • 12pm – Walter Tragert
  • 1pm – Joe McDermott
  • 2pm – Joaquin Hancock and the Hancock Family Band with Chataqua
  • 3pm – McCallum High School Knights of Steel 

Mysterious Bonus on Sunday!

  • Lemony Snicket, 12:15-1pm, House ChamberIn a special presentation entitled, “When Did You See Her Last?”, popular author, Lemony Snicket “asks all the wrong questions.” Don’t miss this mysterious conversation. Also, be sure to check LiveMom in the coming weeks for an interview with Mr. Snicket.

More for Grown-Ups: 

In addition to these events directed towards children, there are a host of happenings for grown-ups as well. Check out the Lit Crawls, panel discussions, cooking demos, and more! To browse the entire list of events, visit www.texasbookfestival.org

Getting There: 

If you have questions regarding parking, book signings, rules about attending events inside the Capitol, how to attend Lit Crawls, etc., please visit the How to Attend section of the Festival site for all the details. 

Below is the Festival map. You’ll notice that all of the Children’s events will take place within the same block between Colorado and 12th and 13th Streets, directly in front of the Capitol.



Freelance web producer, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 3, 5, and 7), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures. Browse her literacy-focused kids activities on her blog, Read ‘Em and Leap.

Photos courtesy of Texas Book Festival’s Facebook page.