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Before the digital age – before smartphones and handheld devices unlocked a trap door to the alternate reality we too often find ourselves stuck in – there existed a simpler time where children could find both escape and enrichment from simply reading books. With each new story, they sharpened their ability to translate words on a page into a vivid world constructed uniquely in their imaginations. Through books, children effortlessly transcended the mundane and ordinary, expanded their minds, and drew symbolic connections to the world around them.

In an effort to promote the importance of literacy, preserve the treasured pastime of getting lost in a story, and celebrate remarkable, local writers, The DoSeum is accepting nominations for their 2020 Author Series. This annual program presents children with the rare opportunity to meet professional authors and illustrators, participate in book readings, and even get their own book copies signed. Through listening and participation, children will be exposed to writers’ creative processes, encouraged to think creatively, and perhaps even be inspired to create their own stories. In true DoSeum fashion, the program will surpass the expectations of a traditional book signing and offer an immersive, hands-on experience complete with activities aligned with the stories shared. Families are invited to accompany their children to each author visit as official co-pilots in this thrilling, educational journey.

This year’s Author Series has featured some of San Antonio’s greatest storytellers. On April 7, author Xelena González and illustrator Adriana Garcia teamed up to share All Around Us, an award-winning book full of magic, color, beautiful images, and the theme of cycles. On June 29, Xavier Garza – San Antonio-based artist, author, and bard – enchanted young readers with his scary stories centered on San Antonio legends’ life in border town Texas. His graphic novel-style illustrations leap off the page, drawing in young readers to a world filled with wrestling, masked mysteries, and an easy flow between Spanish and English.

On Sept. 7, Catherine Stier will take The DoSeum stage. Stier won a creative writing contest – in first grade. Since then she has authored eight children’s books and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Stier has served as a newspaper columnist and freelance magazine writer, instructed writing classes, led a library Teen Writing Club, and conducted academic research on children’s picture books. Her books have received honors from the International Reading Association, the Bank Street College of Education, and others.

One final surprise author will close out the 2019 series between November and December while the DoSeum continues preparation for next year.

As the Author Series applications for 2020 are submitted, they will be carefully reviewed by a panel of highly acclaimed individuals from the greater San Antonio area. The panel will include Dr. Ann D. David, associate professor in the Dreeben School of Education at the University of the Incarnate Word; Viki Ash, former director of Children’s Services for the San Antonio Public Library; Gladys Hernandez, executive director of the Leadership SAISD; Garza; and Orlando Graves Bolaños, art education manager at The DoSeum.

David works to prepare future K-12 teachers in the University of the Incarnate Word’s certification program with a focus on pre-service teachers planning to teach middle and high school. Her research interests include the teaching of writing, culturally responsive and sustaining teaching, and pre-service teacher education.

Ash, a recently retired librarian of 36 years, is thrilled to be a part of the 2020 panel. “I think providing children with an opportunity to interact with a real author (or illustrator) is a laudable undertaking,” she said. “It can not only inspire children to read more and more widely – but can also inspire a wonderful sense of possibility.”

Hernandez is an educator, leader and coach, passionate about education reform. As a first-generation college graduate, it is her belief that all kids deserve the best opportunities to learn, thrive and grow, and she is very excited to be a part of The DoSeum’s annual effort to provide just that.

As an artist, author and poet, Garza is no stranger to the Author Series. As a featured author in this year’s series, he brings passion, experience, and literary expertise to the 2020 selection panel.

Bolaños, an MFA graduate in Fine Arts from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, spent 26 years in Spain coordinating high-quality art education residencies in Title I public schools. Returning to the U.S. in 2013, he continued his pursuit of art education, taking on the role of deputy director of education at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and finally joining The DoSeum in 2015 where he now leads the design and facilitation of Arts Education Programming as well as the Artist-in-Residence Program.

Applications for the 2020 Author Series can be made at http://www.thedoseum.org/author-series. Each application should include a signed terms and conditions document, a completed application document, and a copy of the author’s book.

All books submitted must be published by a publishing company and will be judged on the following criteria for selection: content/ideas, author’s message, author’s craft, and alignment to The DoSeum’s core values. In short, books that will have the greatest shot at being selected will contain extremely relevant and inspiring ideas, a clear and concise theme, excellent sentence structure, and align with The DoSeum’s core values and audience.

All applications will be thoroughly reviewed through November with author selections revealed on Dec. 6. Don’t miss out on an extraordinary opportunity to share your story. Apply today, and join the DoSeum in its continued quest to promote literacy, celebrate local authors, and keep the joy in reading.

Jaclyn Miller is a freelance journalist and copywriter with a particular interest in music, culture, and health & wellness. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, she currently lives in Austin, Texas, where...