Work with Youth

“Just as the stars above Nantucket charted the course of your great fleets, it is the books in the hands of eager young readers which will chart the course of your community.”

Jack Gantos
PEN/Faulkner WinS visiting author




Nantucket Book Festival has partnered with the PEN/Faulkner Foundation’s Writers in Schools program, in crafting programs for the Nantucket school system. We now reach the island’s Elementary, Middle and High School with works of contemporary literature, bringing some of the country’s finest children’s and young adult authors to the island to meet with our students. Past authors have included Jack Gantos, Julie Berry, Jacqueline Woodson, and Morowa Yejidé

2017’s PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools author was Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who visited the 9th grade honors English classes on April 12. Students received a copy of his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and created projects depicting the theme of the book. Sáenz was named one of the "Fifty Most Inspiring Authors in the World" by Poets & Writers magazine. His latest collection of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, is the winner of the prestigious 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (Sáenz was the first Latino ever to win this award), as well as a Lambda Literary Finalist for Gay Fiction. 




Celebrating the craft of writing and encouraging the development of finding one’s voice through the expression of words on a page, this annual prize is awarded at the Opening Night of Book Festival. The winner and four finalists are selected from the essay competition held for high school students. 

We believe in the power of words to shape and change lives. Our hope is that our students will find a platform of words and a love of reading to understand that while they may live on an island, there is no limit to their imagination. 

Click here to read the 2016 Nantucket Book Festival Young Writer Award essay submissions.



The Nantucket Book Foundation, under which the Book Festival operates, brings visiting authors into all levels of the Nantucket schools and who are of particular interest to island students. New in 2015, the Visiting Author Program demonstrates the Nantucket Book Foundation's commitment to benefit our community as a year-round presence and influence. Our first Visiting Author in the fall of 2015 was Michael Patrick O'Neill, an award-winning photographer and author specializing in marine wildlife and environmental issues.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt visited our Nantucket elementary and middle school students on Tuesday, September 13, to discuss her New York Times bestselling book Fish in a Tree as well as her own experience with being a struggling student and reluctant reader.  Most of the classes had read the book over the summer and enthusiastically participated in Lynda's presentation, asking questions about the book and its main character Ally, who hides her dyslexia by causing trouble until a teacher opens up her world to new possibilities.


Our outreach programs to students were created by Festival Co-Founder Mary Haft in partnership with the dedicated librarians, teachers, and principals at our Nantucket schools. Funding was provided in 2016 by generous grants from the Nantucket Golf Club Foundation and the Community Foundation for Nantucket, as well as ongoing support from our sponsors and donors.