AJC Decatur Book Festival

Each year, a group of friends and I go on a #Nerdcation. For the past several years, we have gone to the National Book Festival in Washington DC. Last year, we started seeing posts from folks who were at the Decatur Book Festival and realized that a few of the authors we were seeing in DC were also going there and that it actually seemed BETTER (if you can imagine)! So we decided to switch things up this year and head to Atlanta. Was it better than DC? ALL THE YES!

First, it’s closer. We could drive there. Granted, we took a scenic route getting there on Friday, BUT if you stay on track, from my house – it’s about 3 and half hours away. That totally beats all the hassle of air travel (also, it takes almost 7 hours to drive to DC).

Second, it is the ENTIRE weekend, starting on Friday evening. The National Book Festival is a one day event and they pack a lot of fun into that one day. The Decatur Book Festival kicked off with keynotes on Friday evening (we actually missed them – see science route above), but we were able to eat awesome food and relax before our big time on Saturday and Sunday.

Third, there is SO MUCH to do at the AJC Decatur Book Festival. The National Book Festival is great, don’t get me wrong, but we have been going for over five years and basically you go from room to room listening to authors. It is inside and there is a small Exhibit Hall. There is not much to walk to in the DC area where the festival is located. DBF, on the other hand, has almost TOO much to do! The speakers were in a variety of locations (all close together), so there was plenty of time spent outside. There were exhibits and other things to do and explore. The area where the festival is held is full of awesome restaurants and shops. We will be going to the DBF again, for sure.

Now for the good stuff – who did I see at DBF?

I actually ended up spending a lot of time listening to authors who write for ADULTS (shocking!). Here is my wrap up of speakers:


Angela DiTerlizzi speaking about her new book, Just Add Glitter. She was dressed, head to toe, in glitter and talked about the publishing of the book – how the artwork was created, how they got SO MUCH glitter on the book, and more. She also read the book aloud and I loved it.

I love a great book for the beginning reader and so I naturally loved the panel about these books with the authors of Ivy & Bean, Charlie & Mouse, and Jasmine Toguchi. All excellent series with spunky girls as the main characters. Great for kids who love Junie B Jones. 

Then I saw Yuyi Morales present about her new book, Dreamers. You guys – GO BUY THIS BOOK! Beautiful illustrations, beautiful story about Yuyi’s experience coming to America from Mexico in 1994 with her infant son.

Karin Slaughter was talking about her books in one of the sessions I attended. She is a mystery writer for adults and I’ve read a couple of her books. She apparently has a huge following and has written tons of books that I added to Goodreads.

Mac Barnett and Mike Lowery presented about their new book, Mac B., Kid Spy. Seems like a great one for 2nd – 3rd graders who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Nate the Great.

Ended the day with two awesome presentations – Teens Talk Activism and Angie Thomas! The Teens Talk session was a group of teen poets who write about things they see going on around them. Things they want to stop (racism, guns at school, etc). They are so talented and so well spoken. Amazing. I have seen Angie Thomas speak before and I love hearing her talk about her book and about diversity in books, in general.


Sunday did not get started until noon, but there was goodness packed in the whole day. Started the day with Jason Reynolds.  He was, OF COURSE, amazing. His story is so important and really one that shows it really just takes one book, one teacher to get you hooked on reading. If you can ever hear him speak in person, it is a MUST DO.

Next up was a panel of YA authors speaking about their books and answering questions about how they get their ideas. They were mostly authors who write mysteries and books that have a kind of surprising twist at the end, so it was interesting. I added quite a few books to my “to read” list because of this session. The authors were David Arnold, Tiffany Jackson, Sandhya Menon, and Kara Thomas.

After that, I went to two sessions aimed squarely at grown ups. Clever Resistance with Hannah Jewell and Bonnie Siegler and Dopesick with Beth Macy. Both were fascinating. Clever Resistance was humorous (hence the name) but important…all about ways people can resistance and not be violent or overly angry about it. Dopesick broke my heart and the author’s talk has stuck with me for days. I am looking forward to reading all of these author’s books.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend of books and friends! I cannot wait to go back!



About Valerie Byrd Fort

I live in South Carolina. I am passionate about libraries, books, and reading. I am also a mom. This is my blog about those things.
This entry was posted in Learning, Reading, This and that, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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