Chicago Public Library Invites Teens to 3rd Annual ChiTeen Lit Fest

Free two-day event developed for teens, by teens encourages Chicago’s young writers

Chicago Public Library today announced the 3rd Annual ChiTeen Lit Fest (CTLF), which will take place on April 13-14 for teens across Chicago. CTLF is a free two-day event developed for teens, by teens and is the only all-genre literary festival honoring Chicago’s young writers and creative writing community.

“Every child in this city deserves a quality education, and writing and literature are essential pieces in helping our students thrive,” said Mayor Emanuel. “ChiTeen Lit Fest provides our talented writers with opportunities to network, hear from leaders in the industry and gain critical skills necessary for a brighter future.”

The two-day event begins with a kick-off party on April 13 from 6-10 p.m. on the 9th floor Winter Garden at Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St.) and will feature food, music, and dance performances.

On April 14 an all-day presentation of workshops, readings, panel discussions and more will be held from 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at Columbia College (623 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL). To see a complete listing of programs, visit  

New this year, six Chicago Public Schools classrooms will present workshops based on curriculum designed to coincide with the fest. The partnership, made possible by the Center for College Access and Success at Northeastern Illinois University, supports teachers and their students presenting workshops on memoir writing, a people’s history of Chicago (for teens, by teens), an analysis on activist James Baldwin, a performance to raise awareness of human trafficking, graphic novels and more. Workshops also include writing for activism, introduction to podcasting and programs that encourage youth to examine societal gender norms.         

“ChiTeen Lit Fest celebrates, inspires and challenges Chicago’s young writers unlike any other literary fest,” said Brian Bannon, Chicago Public Library Commissioner. “The fest’s popularity and strength comes from the power of our YOUmedia teens and mentors, along with our outstanding partners.”

CTLF headliners will discuss their pathways to becoming successful writers, editors and authors. Each headliner will also lead a workshop to introduce students to their genre of literary art and work with students to build their writing skills. Headliners include local professionals:

  • Sejahari Saulter-Villegas, playwright
  • Alex V. Hernandez, graphic journalist
  • Alverne Ball, graphic novelist
  • Alison Ogunmokun, poet
  • Jessie Ann Foley, novelist

In its inaugural year, CTLF hosted more than 300 participants and was the first ever festival of its kind for Chicago teens. The fest’s participants continued to grow in its second year and featured a series of programming at CPL branch locations during the school year. Programming gave students the opportunity to build on skills and ideas developed during the fest with notable partners. Featured programs included hip hop lyric writing, theatrical performance, podcasting workshops, writing for young activists and poetry writing.  

ChiTeen Lit Fest, presented in partnership with CPL’s YOUmedia, is just one of the ways CPL caters directly to teens’ interests. YOUmedia, a nationally recognized program, connects young adults with skilled mentors to engage in active learning in a teens-only space. Programs and services include career exploration, workshops in making, 3D printers and laser cutters, production of music, photography, animation and graphic design. By the end of 2018 CPL will have 20 YOUmedia locations in branches citywide, including its flagship at Harold Washington Library Center, thanks to the support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago.

For free registration and a complete listing of programming, visit Students may also register in-person on the day of the event.

Support for ChiTeen Lit Fest is provided by BMO Harris, Allstate, SCE, The Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning at The Chicago Community Trust, and the Oppenheimer Family Foundation. The fest is also supported by Chicago Public Library, Columbia College Chicago, Poetry Foundation, After School Matters, and Center for College Access and Success at Northeastern Illinois University. 

Join the ChiTeen Lit Fest on Twitter: @chiteenlitfest; Instagram: @chiteenlitfest; and Also, download the ChiTeen Lit Fest app, developed by teens, available for iOS and Android.

About Chicago Public Library

Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, please call (312) 747-4050 or visit To follow CPL on social media, visit us on Twitter (@chipublib) or Facebook (Chicago Public Library).