I am intrigued. How did Abilene, a friendly Texas city become the Storybook Capital of America?
As the story goes: “Once upon a time, there was a city called Abilene, Texas, that dedicated itself to showcasing the wonders of children’s literature. The city built a museum that was the first of its kind in the nation called the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature [NCCIL].
Then came Storybook Sculptures of characters from children’s books populating downtown Abilene. The city started an annual event called the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival [CALF] that grows each year.
“In 2015, the 84th Legislature of the State of Texas designated Abilene as the official Storybook Capital of Texas for its efforts to celebrate literary works for children. Since then, the Storybook Capital’s draw has expanded across America. CALF brings people from multiple states each year, and NCCIL [National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature] exhibits tour across the nation. To recognize the growing appeal of the Storybook Capital, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council in partnership with the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau decided in 2018 to trademark the term “Storybook Capital of America” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”
At the NCCIL, artists are featured one at a time. Their storybook art fills the gallery. Along the gallery walls are the actual books with the pages marked to show the art and how it is presented in the book.
The Storybook Sculpture Project is a collection of commissioned works of art scattered around the downtown area. From a Dr. Suess collection to “Duck on a Bike,” statues delight guests of all ages.
After all, we were all children once.
CALF has a parade, a new storybook sculpture unveiling, and fun activities, including storybook readings, a petting zoo, and musical performances every summer.
The combination of the art’s center, storybook sculptures, and annual festival add up to yet another reason to visit this West Texas city.