The YALLWEST young adult book festival returns to Santa Monica High School on Saturday, May 5.
The fourth annual event will again feature author panels, book signings, food trucks, and, most importantly, enthusiastic young adult readers. More than one hundred writers, including “New York Times” bestselling authors, will be in attendance.
Festival co-founder Margaret Stohl explained that “the goal of all of our festivals is to, A, put books in the hands of kids who may not have them and, B, to say the words that will get those kids to open the books. It’s about community and it’s also about resources.”
In 2017, over 20,000 people visited the festival. Throughout the day, there are many book purchasing and signing opportunities, as well swag giveaways and plenty of laughter.
The festival tackles topics ranging from advice to young authors, to contemporary romances, to celebrating queer literature, to female role models, to discussing writer’s block.
And, while the festival focuses primarily on books, it also includes many forms of expression beyond traditional publications; panels on comic books, music, robotics, social media, and films are also available, and a game of real-life quidditch is scheduled to take place in the afternoon.
In an effort to increase accessibility and reach more students, YALLWEST provides free transportation and meals for some Title I schools.
“It’s part of an overall inclusivity model that we feel is super important,” Stohl said. “We understand how important it is to get to choose books and see yourself as a hero and imagine yourself as part of a reading community and part of a tradition of having content made for you.”
Stohl believes that giving young adults a space to share their voices is vital.
“Working with teens and wanting a festival for teens comes from understanding the value of teens and the value of our future,” Stohl said. “The younger generation is what is going to save this planet.”
While no tickets are required to attend the festival or wander the campus at Santa Monica High School, tickets are required for Friday night’s preview kick-off event with authors at the Santa Monica Library, as well as two keynotes on Saturday, one with authors Tamora Pierce and Tomi Adeyemi, the other with authors Veronica Roth and Sabaa Tahir, as well as the much anticipated, raucous YALLWEST Smackdown hosted by Stohl, co-founder Melissa de la Cruz, and popular young adult author Pseudonymous Bosch.
YALLWEST was born in the wake of the success of YALLFEST, the Charleston, South Carolina young adult and middle school book festival Stohl co-founded in 2011 with Kami Garcia and Jonathan Sanchez of Blue Bicycle Books.
In 2015, Stohl and de la Cruz decided to bring the festival closer to home, launching the inaugural YALLWEST festival.
For more information or to reserve tickets, go to https://www.yallwest.com.