School Spotlight: Madison Book Festival

Junior Harry Hart, left, 16, senior Hasan Kaya, 17, and freshman Darvell Peeples, 15, of Madison West High School work on a tracing project at the the Madison Public Library during the Madison Book Festival.

ANDY MANIS — For the State Journal

The location of this year’s High School Friday portion of the Wisconsin Book Festival, at the new Madison Central Library, added another dimension to the event.

For the first two years, the High School Friday programming was held at Overture Center. This year, both venues were used, giving high school students a chance to explore the library.

“The main goal was kind of bringing the book festival to an audience that doesn’t normally engage with the festival or normally has access to those kinds of things,” said Conor Moran, Wisconsin Book Festival director.

He said author talks, typically a big part of the festival, aren’t necessarily attractive to students. So the high school day is designed to be an interactive way to learn about writing, publishing and other aspects of books, Moran said.

In its 12th year, this is the first time the festival has been under the Madison Public Library umbrella. Jessica Becker, director of public programs of Wisconsin Humanities Council, which shepherded the high school portion for the first two years, continued to assist with running it this year.

The students attended programs on poetry, mapmaking and tracing, which were presented by members of the Library as Incubator Project, which was created by UW-Madison students. A fourth program took them to the library’s new media lab where students could use computers to make a short video, like a film trailer, to capture a scene or idea from the book “Poison” by Bridget Zinn.

The High School Friday event started at the Overture Center with presentations from spoken word artists who attend UW-Madison as part of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community.

Jacob Siegler and Nathan Bartels, both 15 and freshmen at La Follette High School, said they liked the rap and poetry.

“It touched on some deeper topics that we don’t talk about at school,” Nathan said. “We are all thinking about (them).”

High School Friday ended with a presentation by and conversation with Jessie Garcia, a female sportscaster who formerly worked in Madison and is the author of “My Life with the Green & Gold” about her time covering the Green Bay Packers.

Carrie Bohman, West High history teacher, said she jumped at the chance to have her students be among the 150 who could attend the event. She saw it as a way for them to become more aware of community institutions and ways to access knowledge and then use it in a creative way.

April van Buren, La Follette librarian, brought members of her student book club to the event.

“I wanted them to learn about technology so we could take it back to the school and do things to promote the library and technology,” she said.