Amelia Island Book Festival links students and authors

 Submitted by Susan SiegmundAmeliaIslandBookFestival

“You should write a book entitled ‘How to Conduct a Great Author Visit!’ I would love to return someday to lead your students in some interactive Writing or Illustrating Workshops…We could have a BLAST!”

Those are the words of Chris Rumble, author of Uncle Stinky, in his letter to Callahan Intermediate School’s media specialist Evelyn French last year.  He had just had his first experience with the Amelia Island Book Festival’s annual program, Authors In Schools, and he was obviously pumped up about it.  He’s not the only author who had a blast.
It was author Cynthia Enuton, who after visiting Hilliard Elementary, reported that not only were the students inspired to read and write, but the festival and the interactions with other authors inspired her as well.

B F 2Enuton created a website for the students of Nassau County called Paw Power for her ebook short story writing contest last year. Paw Power offered story creation directions, participation permission forms, and contest rules.  This resulted in the ebook titled Paw Power: the Kids of Nassau County and their Pets, a compilation of several stories that were submitted by students from all over the county.   It is available through and all proceeds are donated to animal shelters.  It is a cool book!

So, what does the Book Fest do for an encore in 2013?  President, and an author in her own right, Terri Ridgell Wright came up with a plan.

“Let’s link every student in the Nassau County Public School system with the author who visits their school during Authors In Schools each year.  By giving them an autographed copy of their book, this will encourage the curious student to venture into the wondrous world of reading.  Plus, it will serve as a permanent reminder of the unique encounter each student had with an author,” she said.  “Over time, students will develop their own personal library,” she continued, “and the Book Festival will have been the catalyst.”

The board replied, “Okay, what do we do next?”

“This would require the purchase of nearly 6,000 books,” said the determined Wright.  “At a conservative per book price of $10, well, it will cost a lot, so we need to come up with a plan to buy these books.  Simple as that.  We’ll call it Author Link and go out into the community and ask them to support it.”  Terri is very optimistic.

Board Member John Carr has begun the journey into the corporate community, asking for B F 1contributions to the Author Link fund in increments of $1,000.   Phase One will collect enough contributions to allow the Festival to spend $1,000 per public school toward the purchase of their visiting author’s books.  The 2013 goal:  Fifteen public schools, $15,000.  That can be done.

Each of the Nassau County schools will distribute these books as they see fit.  Contributions may be in smaller increments, and contributors will be recognized in a personalized bookplate inside the books.

“It might not get a book into the hands of EVERY student at first, but it’s a start,” said Carr.  “Each book is an investment in a child, their family and, literally, the future of our community.”
Businesses are the obvious place to start in soliciting contributions, but the Festival believes that they’ll find support from individuals, book clubs, civic organizations and granting agencies to meet the final goal.  The Festival pledges that every single dollar donated will go directly to purchase books because they are covering all administrative costs of the program.

For anyone who bemoans the decline in the state of the world, what this nation is coming to, why kids just don’t act like they should…, you get the drift.  Here’s a concrete way to fight back.

Make a contribution to Author Link by going to and clicking on the icon.  It is tax deductible, it will make you feel better and it will make a difference in the life of a child.

February 18, 2013 8:15 a.m.