BAM Festival’s mission is to provide a county-wide literary experience that brings together authors, teachers, students, families, and the community to share their love of books which will in turn promote literacy, encourage fellowship through education, exercise young minds with discussion, and inspire youth to reach high.
BAM Festival, a books, art, and music convention for authors, illustrators, and performers who write for children and young adults, provides a county-wide literary experience bringing together authors, teachers, students, families and the community to share their love of books.
Created in 2011 and originally titled "April is for Authors" by dedicated Palm Beach County educators, Helen Zientek, a retired library media specialist, and Sue Slone, a retired elementary school principal, the event enabled students to interact with their favorite authors. April is for Authors provided not only a valuable experience for children, but also an opportunity for authors to connect with their audience, as well as key decision makers in the local literacy programs. For the first four years, the April is for Authors event was a program under the Russ Corser Foundation associated with the Kiwanis Club of Singer Island Sunrise. To celebrate its fifth year, the organizers decided to create the April is for Authors Foundation Inc, and filed the paperwork to be a 501(c)(3) entity. The original partners for the event were the School District of Palm Beach County, the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Library System, and the Kiwanis Club of Singer Island Sunrise. Additional partners included the Mandel Library of West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Post, Barnes & Noble Booksellers (Legacy Place), and the American Association of University Women (Northern Palm Beach County Branch). Loyal financial sponsors included the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, the Itto Willits Charitable Foundation, Publix, Florida Power & Light, and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
Prior to the event, schools in Palm Beach County were encouraged to book the invited authors for school visits. Approximately 20,000 school age students each year see authors in their schools. Every year, the April is for Authors Foundation sought funding to pay for author school visits to Title 1 schools. And, also to bring students from Title 1 schools to the event.
In 2017, the organization rebranded to "BAM Festival," for Books, Art, and Music, and moved downtown where the A and M in BAM were born. An artistic and musical element were added via street painting and school choirs and bands that filled the 400 Block on Clematis on the day of the event. BAM took over local staples: a writing workshop at Subculture Coffee, a Q&A at Hullabaloo, a romance discussion at Voltaire, and the entire block was barricaded as chalk art lined the streets, created by professional artists but also aspiring kids. Rosemary Square and Dreyfoos School of the Arts joined with an artist's market in 2020, adding an entirely new sister location, connected by trolley. Our new writing workshop boasts a chance for a local child to win a mentorship and publication with one of our authors!
Nothing quite like this had ever been planned for Palm Beach County, indeed South Florida. It started as an idea, a dream, to bring kids’ authors to Palm Beach County. To put a signed book in the hands of a child or a teenager to foster a love of reading, to encourage learning. Isn’t that a wonderful dream? It’s all about kids leading literate lives and loving books!
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