Reading is the Ultimate Form of Staying Woke: Austin’s African American Book Festival

There's a magic in reading. There's something in feeling the pages beneath your finger tips, imagining the picture with your mind, and diving into a story best told by words.

There was a time in history when Black people weren’t allowed to read. This was strategically done by slave owners because they knew of the power and knowledge that can only be obtained from books. Even with that history, there’s a perception that still lingers today; Black people still don’t like to read. Colloquial sayings such as “If you want to hid something from Black people, put it in a book” continue to reinforce this negative stereotype.

That’s why it’s important as a people that we challenge that by being voracious readers. There’s so many things we can learn about our true history and our stories that we won’t get from traditional U.S. schooling or entertainment. Here’s how you can make regular reading achievable.

Make a plan

It’s easy to get caught up in your daily schedule. You’ll get to the end of the day, be so tired and realize that you have not opened a book once.
Plan out a personal goal. It can be one page or 20 pages, but pick an amount of pages you want to read every day, and do it. It could help to do it the same time and place every day so that it becomes a daily habit.

Read online

If reading a 300-page book seems too time-consuming, start off reading articles online. You can read topics that you’re really interested in or want to learn more about, and most online articles and blog posts only take a few minutes to read.

Attend book festivals

AABF Keynote Speaker UT Professor Dr. Peniel Joseph speaking on Black History, Literature, and Power in the Age of Black Lives Matter

Festivals are a great way to discover new authors and books you may have never heard of, and, like music festivals, there are book festivals with all type of genre or topic focuses. Austin is blessed to have the long-running African American Book Festival (AABF) happening June 22 and 24 at the Carver Museum and Library. In it’s 11th year, AABF is free and open to the public.

AABF features showcases and signings with Black bestselling authors, editors and historians. There will also be discussions of the films I Am Not Your Negro, based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, and Jordan Peele’s hit film, Get Out. 

If you’re ready to jump start your reading and find some woke work to pick up, here are some reading lists to check out:


AABF kicks off on Thursday June 22nd with a youth-centric signing event with NYT Bestselling Young Adult Author Angie Thomas and her Tupac Shakur inspired book The Hate U Give and continues on Saturday June 24th from 9a – 4p at the Carver Museum

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