Offering a Book-Filled Sense of Community in Arlington

Offering a Book-Filled Sense of Community in Arlington

NoVa Teen Book Festival to connect readers and authors.

When the word “festival” comes to mind, one usually thinks of amusement rides, carnival games, face painting, and merry-go-rounds, but seldom does one think of books.

Arlington-based One More Page Books bookstore is hosting its 6th annual NoVa Teen Book Festival on Saturday, March 30 at Marshall High School in Falls Church, from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. This festival’s mission is to connect readers to books and authors and create a sense of community while inspiring creativity.

Owner of One More Page Books, Eileen McGervey, opened the bookstore in 2011 and hired Danielle Ellison, founder of NoVa Teen Book Festival, to coordinate Young Adult events.

“I went to a meeting with the teen librarian at Arlington Central Library, Nico Pero, to brainstorm ideas for teen events,” Ellison said. “At the end of our conversation, I asked her, ‘What would you do if you could do anything?’ She replied, ‘Something to put this area on the map for authors because our teens are hungry for literature and they will show up.’ Well, I have a crazy idea … what if we start a book festival?" And that is where NoVa Teen Book Festival was born.”

McGervey writes on her LinkedIn page: “I escaped from corporate marketing to a place where I’m surrounded by my favorite things — books, wine, chocolate, and people who enjoy them.” Some of those people include former President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia, who visited the bookstore in 2012 for Small Business Saturday. The bookstore has two or three book events every week at the store, hosts five book clubs, and frequently collaborates with the Arlington Central Library.

Thanks to local authors, librarians, educators, individuals and businesses who volunteer and work with One More Page Books are the unsung heroes of the festival, who bring it all together, says Ellison.

Leila Nebeker is the official book buyer and event organizer for One More Page Books, says that the festival is special for many reasons and has something to offer every person — nearly 1,000 of them: “Some people come to the festival wanting to know how you start writing and how you become an author and how you get published while others want to hear from authors about a character and their development throughout a book, the fantasy world and their source of inspiration for those characters.”

The festival will host authors from around the United States, many of whom are local from the Washington, D.C. area. The day-long event will consist of multiple panel discussions that are categorized into major themes that emerge throughout the books. These themes can be deducted by their title names, which Nebeker said, “were originally named after song titles because they were appropriate.”

“Girls Run the World” by Beyonce is the title for the discussion topic of heroic female characters. The other panels are focused on the craft of writing, themes, and character development, where both the audience and the authors have the opportunity to converse with one another and discuss the influence of the books one their lives.

Other session highlights include “Stand Up & Stand Out” — a discussion of characters who stand out in the crowd and stand up for what they believe in; “ Lean on Me” — a discussion about friendships that sometimes turn into something more; “Revolution” — political unrest and power struggles; and a “Journey to the Past” — books that take readers back in time and across the globe.

Nebeker, who will be hosting “Lean on Me,” said that “the characters in these books confront a lot of different obstacles that are similar to what teens are dealing with. When they read experiences that are portrayed in books that embody similar feelings to their own, those characters can help those teens get through similar experiences — feelings of isolation, helplessness, loneliness, and fear.”

The panel discussions offer a platform where relevant topics can be discussed openly that otherwise might be a source of discomfort, making books a channel for teens to express themselves.

In addition to the discussions, there will be games and writing workshops (tickets required), author book signings, and a variety of sponsors with tables providing stickers, buttons, bookmarks and more, including t-shirts and tote bags; cardboard standups of book characters will be available for photo opportunities. There also will be food trucks: Mac’s Donuts, Empanadas de Mendoza, The Big Cheese, and Pho Wheels.

“NoVa Teen is literally the best thing I've accomplished in my life, and I hope that everyone who comes, especially teens, leave feeling a little bit of that joy, love and passion that so many people pour into it,” Ellison said.

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