Young Readers Festival

2018 Young Readers Festival featuring Kara LaReau.

Kara LaReau speaks to a large crowd of third graders at the 2018 Young Readers Festival of Books in Sioux Falls. 

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About the Young Readers Festival

An extension of our established and successful South Dakota Festival of Books and One Book South Dakota programs, SDHC launched the Young Readers Initiative and Young Readers Festival of Books in 2014 to excite children about books and in turn prevent the common problem of summer reading loss. The program was created to shape powerful learning habits for youth when they are most impressionable; therefore, setting the stage for a lifetime of joy from reading. 

Combining book ownership with face-to-face visits with authors and artists creates the kind of lifelong excitement for reading and writing that we want to achieve.

The Young Readers program is made possible by generous donors, including United Way of the Black Hills, First Bank and Trust, John T. Vucurevich Foundation and Northern Hills Federal Credit Union, who help us provide books to students throughout South Dakota. 

2019 YR Selection: 'Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People'

The 2019 Young Readers One Book wass "Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People," a three-book bind in by Oglala Lakota tribal artist and author Donald F. Montileaux of Rapid City that includes three works: "Tatanka and the Lakota People: A Creation Story," "Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend," and "Muskrat and Skunk: A Lakota Drum Story." 

Montileaux is the first tribal author and artist from South Dakota to be chosen as the statewide Young Readers One Book S.D. author. Born in Pine Ridge, S.D., Montileaux is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He attended the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, N.M. and Black Hills State College in Spearfish, then worked for 22 years at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, before becoming a full-time artist.

In Lakota and English, "Tasunka A Horse Legend" has won national awards including the Mom's Choice Award, Aesop Accolade Award, Moonbeam Children's Book Award, and the coveted Western Writers of America 2015 Spur Award. War horses, buffalo, and warriors are the primary subjects of Montileaux's art, all telling a story through the use of movement, color, positioning of the subject with colored pencils and India ink.

His work is represented in numerous private and public collections. In September 2014, Montileaux was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame as a Champion for Excellence, Arts & Entertainment/Artist.

"Wow. To receive news that I was selected out of so many wonderful authors and illustrators of children's books, this was quite an honor," Montileaux said. "The time one spends so that a finished book can be put into the hands of so many readers, which will influence many of all ages, is what one dreams of. To see that book in the hands of so many children is beyond words."

As part of the Young Readers One Book program, SDHC annual provides free copies to elementary students around the state. In 2019, SDHC expanded its efforts to provide copies to more students, including to youth who live on the nine Indian reservations in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Humanities Council distributed more than 5,000 copies to second-graders in Spring 2019. As third-graders in Fall 2019, those students met Montileaux at Young Readers Festival of Books events, through school visits, or via live-streamed presentations.

Bringing Enlightenment

Montileaux's "Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People," printed in both Lakota and English, brought various forms of enlightenment to readers of all ages in South Dakota.

"Being of mixed cultures, both which are rich in storytelling, I hope that people will first look at this book as a fun to read book; secondly that it makes them stop and appreciate the story that is unfolding, with the use of English and Lakota language and enticing them to want to research the stories more -- to find out more facts that cast a light on other cultures that have a rich and wonderful background," he said.

The 2018 Young Readers Festival of Books celebrated five years of building enthusiasm for reading and writing among youth with school visits and public presentations in Sioux Falls and Brookings in September 2018. 

Montileaux succeeded 2018 Young Readers One Book author Kara LaReau who spoke to more than 3,000 of the nearly 7,000 third-graders statewide who received a bind-in of the first two stories in her "The Infamous Ratsos" series. 

Authors for the 2020 Young Readers Festival of Books in Brookings will be announced in the coming months. 

Donald Montileaux is the 2019 Young Readers One Book S.D. author.

Donald Montileaux is the 2019 Young Readers One Book S.D. author.

2019 Young Readers Author Don Montileaux.
2019 Young Readers Author Don Montileaux.

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