Southeastern Book Festival Celebrates Literature


Jaiden Aquino, Assistant Editor

On March 7, roughly 45 students of journalism, Inklings, and creative writing took a field trip to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) to participate in the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival, an event designed to allow students to interact with authors of young adult literature. A secondary goal of the event was to encourage literacy and advance education by allowing all participants of the event to join together and celebrate literature. On the MTSU campus, 40 young adult authors offered to sign books for any student that would choose to immortalize their experience in a thematically appropriate manner, with a limit of three signings total per student. Many also answered questions regarding their latest books, their jobs as writers, and their creative processes.

Rhonda Winton
One panel of authors seen by CCHS’ group. From left to right: Alex London, Arvin Ahmadi, Heather Kaczynski, and Renee Ahdieh

After separated groups were assembled in classrooms to ask these questions to their assigned panel of authors, the mass of students flocked to the student union to enjoy lunch, purchase books, and personally meet any author they desired.  They were only impeded by whatever length of a line preceded their desire, whether that was to buy lunch or books or to have their books signed. With authors present such as Becky Albertalli, author of the recently movie-adapted book Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Jeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King and Goodbye Days, the opportunities provided by this convention likely satisfied enthusiasts of young adult literature.

Perhaps most importantly, many students seized their chance to purchase bottles of the award winning MTSU chocolate milk. The MTSU Creamery’s local sourcing, processing, and bottling of the milk is proven by the Tennessee Milk logo printed on the bottle and serves as a tribute to the state beverage. The renowned drink topped off the experience of the festival for any student that was willing to make the worthy investment of two dollars.

In the end, this group of students, united under their appreciation for the written word (and chocolate milk), departed from the university enriched in their understanding of professional writing and the diverse works, personalities, and minds of the authors they met. This cultivation of literary culture remains imprinted in each memory, message, and signature the students obtained, and as an annual event, any person who has regretted missing it can join one of the clubs for next year!