What does it mean to be 15?
On Saturday, October 14, students, families, volunteers, and many other supporters joined us at the Mission Center to celebrate the launching of our 15th-anniversary book: FIFTEEN—a collection of writing and art by authors ages eight to much older than 15—as part of the LitCrawl literary festival.
The room was packed as families hurried to the best seats in the Writing Lab to celebrate their young authors. Before the event started, guests got to sneak a peek at the book admiring the beautiful cover art, by talented illustrator Dan Bransfield, and snack on cookies and milk (the perfect combination if you ask us.)
Our co-founders Dave Eggers and Nínive Calegari kicked off the event—and the book with a beautiful foreword—by sharing emotional memories of 15 years of 826 Valencia. The festivity continued with special guest readers Lisa Brown, Matthew Zapruder, and Kate Schatz (who courageously read poetry from her teenage journal) telling stories from their pasts and highlighting the importance of writing and self-expression in finding their creative voices and shaping their teenage identities.
The atmosphere was pure joy when students finally graced the stage to read their heartfelt pieces about what it means to be 15. Quinceanera dresses and college dreams filled the room with hopes of a bright future for our young writers.
The event was a success, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our community members and friends who help our students’ work shine every day. A huge thank you from the 826 family to all of the students who beautifully read their pieces: Gissetle, Eglys, Geizel, Javier, and Laniya; to our friends who helped put this amazing book together: designer Lucy Kirchner, illustrator Dan Bransfield, and copy editor Will Georgantas; and last, but not least, our amazing co-founders Dave Eggers and Nínive Calegari who turned our work into reality 15 years ago.
Fifteen—an inspiring read for anyone who is, was, or will be 15—is available at our stores or online.
Photos courtesy of photographer Rosie Cima