four teen ambassadors clad in bright pink t-shirts at Bookish in the 'Burgh

Book(ish) Report: Teen Ambassadors Recap Festival

Mon, Apr 15, 2019

Written by: Teen Ambassadors Mia, Christiana, and Amelia; photos by Grace Wong and Richard Kelly

On March 23 and 24, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust hosted the city’s first teen book festival, Bookish in the ‘Burgh, in the Cultural District. This celebration of young adult literature featured teen writing workshops, conversations with authors, and a book signing party.

It was a groundbreaking event, and at the heart of it all were the teen ambassadors who volunteered their time to help their peers with everything from wayfinding to book recommendations. We invited them to share their reflections and give us a behind-the-scenes look at the weekend.

crowd of teens and parents listen attentively Bookish in the 'Burgh

Mia N.

North Allegheny High School

My experience at Bookish in the ‘Burgh was nothing short of amazing. The festival connected me with my community in ways that I could never begin to describe. I value all of the knowledge and friendships that I have gained through this experience and am so grateful for everyone who helped to put this wonderful event together.

One of the things that I loved the most about Bookish in the ‘Burgh is that it connected me with other writers and readers in the Western Pennsylvania and Ohio areas. I was able to talk with a range of talented individuals who were also book nerds at heart. I found myself saying “that book is awesome” and “you need to read that” more times than I could count and was constantly smiling at all of the insightful and honest things that others had to say.

Seeing authors and readers coming together was definitely another highlight of the festival. Being able to talk with influential authors and hear their stories really motivated me in my own writing and reading. In general, hearing everyone’s stories helped me to expand my horizons and learn new things.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Bookish in the ‘Burgh 2019. I connected with readers, writers, and everyone in between. It was so much fun and I cannot put into words how much I have gained from this. I cannot wait to see everyone next year and look forward to seeing where Bookish goes in the future!

two authors converse with a moderator at Bookish in the 'Burgh

Christiana P.

Fox Chapel High School

The Bookish in the ‘Burgh festival was a very exciting weekend for any book nerd, but especially for me. I got to go behind-the-scenes and see more of the process and authors. After being selected as a teen ambassador, I was unsure of what the experience would be but was nevertheless excited to be involved in such an event beyond a spectator. The event surpassed all expectations. It was a chance for me to step back from the chaos of junior year, meet lots of new people, and get to spend time with actual published authors, so overall it was an unforgettable experience.

My two favorite parts were having the opportunity to hang out with my fellow teen ambassadors and attendees of the festival, and the author book signing party. As a self-identifying bookworm, I am not always the most social person, so this event was a perfect way for me to talk to people. There was immediate a bond formed among the teen ambassadors since we were all there for the same reason: a love of books. By the end of the day all of us went home with at least one more friend and a good book.

Another aspect I loved about the festival was all the people who attended it. It was easy to strike up conversations with anyone, either about the expansive amount of Harry Potter merchandise everywhere, or to gush about the authors who were right in front of us.

The last thing I loved about the festival was the author signing party. As a teen ambassador I got to spend extra time with the authors. Every published author has been through their own individual journey to get to this point, so the ability to hear seven different stories was invaluable. It really shows you that there is no one path to success and despite their success each author was always ready to learn more about each of us individually and answer any writing questions we could think of which was really cool.

One other thing I loved about the author signing party was getting to watch other attendees meet and talk to the authors. From starstruck children getting pictures with their favorite author, to a group of young women in school to become English teachers, everyone in the space was ecstatic to be there and the sheer amount of positive energy in the room was astounding.

As a whole I loved the Bookish in the ‘Burgh festival and would love to come back to any event like it.

two teens smile while reading at Bookish in the 'Burgh

Ameila D.

Peters Township High School

Being a teen ambassador for the first ever Bookish in the ‘Burgh festival was an incredible experience. When I first happened upon an advertisement on Instagram, I knew I wanted to be part of it. I had the privilege of working behind-the-scenes that weekend, helping out authors and guiding people through their day, while still attending the events and meeting new and enthusiastic “bookish” people. The other teen ambassadors were open to anyone and everyone, and I found myself comfortable and happy talking about our favorite authors and books almost as soon as I got there. All of the adults who ran the event were equally as ecstatic to be there and to work with us. I found myself surrounded by positivity, excitement, and whole lot of inspiring people who pull out the best ideas from you.

Aside from the other teens and adults that were a part of this, I really felt immersed in the whole culture of the event itself. Just walking through crowds of diverse people before book talks started, I could hear excited whispers about their favorite authors coming on stage, and I even managed to see a few wonderful conversations develop between strangers on the topics of books and writing.

I was amazed to find how far so many people had traveled just to be there. The first event I attended and participated in after my arrival was the writing workshop, and I got to talk to some of the people there. One of them mentioned that they had driven three hours to be there for the day.

The day was special and remarkable. I know that being a young avid reader or aspiring author can be hard in a world where it sometimes feels impossible to find others who will listen, or who think the same way. This event really felt like an outlet for creativity for so many of the people there, and that is a feeling I hope everyone can experience at least once in their lives.

Learn more about Bookish in the ‘Burgh on our website.

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  • bookish
  • teens