You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Join TLA

Featured Speakers

General Session I

Frederick Joseph is an award-winning marketing professional, media representation advocate, and writer who was recently selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. He’s also the winner of the 2018 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, given by Comic-Con International: San Diego, and was selected for the 2018 Root 100 List of Most Influential African Americans. He will discuss his latest book, The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person. Speaking directly to the reader, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now.

Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, Frederick Joseph‘s The Black Friend serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many readers need.

General Session I is Thursday, April 22, 8:30 – 10:00am. It is a live session.


MoreLess Details

Spotlight Author Session

Matthew McConaughey, Academy Award-winning actor and author, is the TLA 2021 Spotlight Author Session speaker.
He will discuss his #1 New York Times bestselling memoir, Greenlights, of which he wrote:
“This is not a traditional memoir, or an advice book, but rather a playbook based on adventures in my life. Adventures that have been significant, enlightening, and funny, sometimes because they were meant to be but mostly because they didn’t try to be.”

Matthew McConaughey is a married man, a father of three children, and a loyal son and brother. He considers himself a storyteller by occupation, believes it’s okay to have a beer on the way to the temple, feels better with a day’s sweat on him, and is an aspiring orchestral conductor.
In 2009, Matthew and his wife, Camila, founded the just keep livin Foundation, which helps at-risk high school students make healthier mind, body, and spirit choices. In 2019, McConaughey became a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Minister of Culture/M.O.C. for the University of Texas and the City of Austin. McConaughey is also brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company, an owner of the Major League Soccer club Austin FC, and co-creator of his favorite bourbon on the planet, Wild Turkey Longbranch.
He will speak at the TLA 2021 Annual Conference at 11:30 AM on Thursday, April 22, in a live presentation.
MoreLess Details

Black Caucus Round Table Author Session

Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson are the featured speakers at the Black Caucus Round Table Author Session. All TLA 2021 conference attendees are welcome; no extra ticket is required.
Ilyasah Shabazz is an author, motivational speaker and community organizer. She is the daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz.
Tiffany D. Jackson is the critically acclaimed author of YA novels including the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, a Walter Dean Myers Honored Book and Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner.

They will discuss their new book, The Awakening of Malcolm X: A Novel, an intimate look at Malcolm X’s young adult years, a book that invites larger discussions on black power, prison reform, and civil rights. The Black Caucus Round Table Author Session will be held at 1:45 PM on Thursday April 22. This is a live session.

MoreLess Details

General Session II

Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, has become a leading figure in narrative nonfiction. She is the author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, a #1 New York Times bestseller and an Oprah’s Book Club selection, which is long-listed for the National Book Award.

Her debut work, The Warmth of Other Suns, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the AnisfieldWolf Award for Nonfiction, the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, and the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994, as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times, making her the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

Isabel will be interviewed by Brooke Lewis, a journalist with the Houston Chronicle.

General Session II is scheduled for Friday, April 23 at 9 AM. This is a live session.

MoreLess Details

Library Friends, Trustees & Advocates Author Session

The Library Friends, Trustees & Advocates Author Session is proud to present Dwayne Reed and Gary Paulsen as their featured authors on Friday, April 23 at noon.

Dwayne Reed is America’s favorite rapping teacher from Chicago who spreads his message of inspiration and empowerment to more than 50,000 followers, subscribers, readers, listeners, and fans. Each month, hundreds of new and aspiring teachers attend his engaging live seminars and rousing, interactive workshops to experience the thrill of teaching. His first book, Simon B. Rhymin’, is a humorous, heartwarming story.

Gary Paulsen discovered early in his life that books could provide excellent companionship. His resulting passion for literature has stimulated a wealth of published works for both children and adults. Gary’s newest book is Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood. He is the author of Hatchet, which won him the Newbery Honor Award.

Paulsen has written more than 100 books for children and teens. Paulsen’s interest in dog sledding led to his participation in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The impact of this experience is brought to life in several of his outstanding books, including Woodsong and Dogsong, another Newbery Honor Award winner.

Author and illustrator Jarrett Krosozcka (the Lunch Lady series and many other titles) will be Gary Paulsen’s conversation partner for the LiFTA Author Session

The LIFTA event is at noon on Friday, April 23. It is a live event.

MoreLess Details

General Session III


Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning A Single Shard and the best-seller A Long Walk to Water. Linda Sue will discuss her latest novel, the highly praised Prairie Lotus, a middle-grade historical novel about a half-Asian girl growing up in a small town in the U.S. in 1880. She’ll also discuss her upcoming work; The One Thing You’d Save.

When she’s not writing, speaking, teaching, or caregiving for her two grandchildren, Linda Sue Park spends most of her time on equity/inclusion work for We Need Diverse Books and the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. She will be speaking at 9 AM on Saturday, April 24 in a live event.

MoreLess Details

Closing Author Session/All Conference Read

Attica Locke’s latest novel Heaven, My Home (September 2019) is the sequel to Edgar Award-winning Bluebird, Bluebird. Her third novel Pleasantville was the winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was also long-listed for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction. The Cutting Season was the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Her first novel Black Water Rising was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

A former fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab, Locke works as a screenwriter as well.  Most recently, she was a writer and producer on Netflix’s When They See Us and the Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

TLA’s All Conference Reads will focus on the Highway 59 series. The conference will offer multiple opportunities to engage with Bluebird, Bluebird and Heaven, My Home, culminating in a discussion with the author to close out the 2021 Conference.

Attica will speak at 3 PM Saturday, April 24, in a live event.

MoreLess Details