Skip to main content

South Dakota Announces Titles for National Book Festival

August 5, 2023

The South Dakota Center for the Book has selected one youth title and one adult title to represent the state at the 2023 National Book Festival, August 12 in Washington, D.C.

This year’s selections are A Place for Harvest: The Story of Kenny Higashi, written by Lauren Harris and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino, and We Are the Stars: Colonizing and Decolonizing the Oceti Sakowin Literary Tradition, written by Sarah Hernandez.

Both titles will be included in the Great Reads from Great Places list hosted by the National Center for the Book. This list features authors and books representing the literary heritage of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas. For over 20 years the program exclusively featured children’s books, but it began including adult titles last year.

“We are proud to share our state’s stories with the nation,” said Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book, housed in the South Dakota Humanities Council. “Through these books, readers of all ages will get a sense of the people and places that have shaped our literary heritage.”

The National Book Festival will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, August 12 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. For those unable to attend in person, several programs will be livestreamed, and recordings of all presentations will be uploaded later. Visit for details about these virtual options.

The authors and illustrator representing South Dakota will also appear in person at the 2023 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood, Sept. 22-24.

More about South Dakota’s Selections

A Place for Harvest tells the story of Kenny Higashi, a son of Japanese immigrants, who works on his family’s vegetable farm near Spearfish. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, everything changes. Thousands of Japanese-American families are forced out of their homes into guarded camps. Kenny or his brother must join the United States Army, or his whole family will be forced to move into a camp. Kenny volunteers, joining the 100th Infantry Battalion, which becomes part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II.

Author Lauren Harris grew up in a military family that travelled the U.S. She draws on years of experience as an elementary school teacher and journalist to write history for children.

Illustrator Felicia Hoshino was born, and still resides, in San Francisco. She has created illustrations for multiple children’s books.

A Place for Harvest was published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press.

In We Are the Stars, Sarah Hernandez explores the literary record of the women of the Oceti Sakowin (historically known to some as the Sioux Nation). The core themes are how settler colonizers used the printing press and boarding schools to displace Oceti Sakowin women as traditional culture keepers and culture bearers, and how contemporary Oceti Sakowin writers and scholars have started to decolonize and reclaim their literary heritage and culture.

Hernandez (Sicangu Lakota) is a professor of Native American literature and the director of the Institute for American Indian Research at the University of New Mexico. Her work focuses on early and contemporary Native American literature. Hernandez is also a member of the Oceti Sakowin Writers Society.

We Are the Stars was published by the University of Arizona Press.

About the South Dakota Center for the Book

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress is a community of 56 Affiliated Centers promoting reading, libraries, and literacy. The South Dakota Center for the Book is one of those 56 Affiliates. Its mission is “to celebrate the written word in South Dakota, extol the rich heritage of the state, and encourage authorship, literacy and reading.”

Learn more about humanities programming in South Dakota by signing up for SDHC e-Updates!