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BAM Festival’s mission is to provide a county-wide literary experience that brings together authors, teachers, students, families, and the community to share their love of books which will in turn promote literacy, encourage fellowship through education, exercise young minds with discussion, and inspire youth to reach high.


BAM Festival, a books, art, and music convention for authors, illustrators, and performers who write for children and young adults, provides a county-wide literary experience bringing together authors, teachers, students, families and the community to share their love of books.

Created in 2011 and originally titled "April is for Authors" by dedicated Palm Beach County educators, Helen Zientek, a retired library media specialist, and Sue Slone, a retired elementary school principal, the event enabled students to interact with their favorite authors. April is for Authors provided not only a valuable experience for children, but also an opportunity for authors to connect with their audience, as well as key decision makers in the local literacy programs. For the first four years, the April is for Authors event was a program under the Russ Corser Foundation associated with the Kiwanis Club of Singer Island Sunrise. To celebrate its fifth year, the organizers decided to create the April is for Authors Foundation Inc, and filed the paperwork to be a 501(c)(3) entity. The original partners for the event were the School District of Palm Beach County, the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Library System, and the Kiwanis Club of Singer Island Sunrise. Additional partners included the Mandel Library of West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Post, Barnes & Noble Booksellers (Legacy Place), and the American Association of University Women (Northern Palm Beach County Branch). Loyal financial sponsors included the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, the Itto Willits Charitable Foundation, Publix, Florida Power & Light, and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.


Prior to the event, schools in Palm Beach County were encouraged to book the invited authors for school visits. Approximately 20,000 school age students each year see authors in their schools. Every year, the April is for Authors Foundation sought funding to pay for author school visits to Title 1 schools. And, also to bring students from Title 1 schools to the event.

In 2017, the organization rebranded to "BAM Festival," for Books, Art, and Music, and moved downtown where the A and M in BAM were born. An artistic and musical element were added via street painting and school choirs and bands that filled the 400 Block on Clematis on the day of the event. BAM took over local staples: a writing workshop at Subculture Coffee, a Q&A at Hullabaloo, a romance discussion at Voltaire, and the entire block was barricaded as chalk art lined the streets, created by professional artists but also aspiring kids. Rosemary Square and Dreyfoos School of the Arts joined with an artist's market in 2020, adding an entirely new sister location, connected by trolley. Our new writing workshop boasts a chance for a local child to win a mentorship and publication with one of our authors!

Nothing quite like this had ever been planned for Palm Beach County, indeed South Florida. It started as an idea, a dream, to bring kids’ authors to Palm Beach County. To put a signed book in the hands of a child or a teenager to foster a love of reading, to encourage learning. Isn’t that a wonderful dream? It’s all about kids leading literate lives and loving books!


  • Peter Cruise, President

  • Lisa Butler, Vice President

  • Chet Zientek, Treasurer

  • Teresa Rodrigues, Secretary

  • Claire Salmon, Director

  • Helen Zientek, Founder

  • Harvey Oyer III

  • Caren Hackman

  • Stacie Ramey

  • Monica Ladd


  • Arts & Entertainment District West Palm Beach

  • Cultural Council for Palm Beach County

  • Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County

  • Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches

  • PNC Bank

  • Webauthor

  • Publix

  • Town of Palm Beach United Way

  • City of West Palm Beach

  • The Palm Beach Post

  • Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach

  • School District of Palm Beach County

  • Law Enforcement Trust Fund, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department

  • Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County

  • Itto A. Willits Charitable Trust Fund

  • Florida Power & Light 

  • Rohi's Readery

  • Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation

  • Palm Beach County Library System

  • Florida Association for Media in Education

  • Palm Beach County Library Association

  • Discover the Palm Beaches


  • Claire Salmon, Director

  • Jennifer McQuown, Event Coordinator

  • Monica Ladd, Logistics Committee

  • Rebecca Radic, Authors Committee

  • Lisa Butler, Hotel Coordinator

  • Craig Santiago, Volunteer Coordinator

  • Helen Zientek, Logistics Team

  • Emily Hightower, Marketing & Social Media Manager 

All art and graphics by Claire Salmon

New Website by Plumer Production Group.


Original Website Design & Concept by Jeremy Mattocks

Our Policies


BAM Festival Inc. has a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY for harassment of any kind, including but not limited to: stalking, intimidation, offensive verbal comments, physical assault and/or battery, harassing or non-consensual photography or recording, sustained disruption of programs (panels, signings, meet-ups, and other events), bathroom policing, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome physical attention, in relation to, but not limited to: race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, age, body size, disability, appearance, religion, citizenship, pregnancy.

If a person engages in harassing behavior, the BAM Festival Team will take prompt action in any form they deem appropriate, including expulsion from the festival. Our policy applies to EVERYONE at the festival. Exhibitors, Attendees, Authors, Speakers, Guests, Press, Staff, Volunteers, and Security are all subject to our anti-harassment policy. This applies in the public venues as well as all festival staff spaces, green rooms, parties, and VIP events.

Anyone can report harassment. If someone’s behavior has made you uncomfortable, or if you witness the same happening to someone else, you should immediately contact BAM Festival Inc. directly. You may also come to the Youth Services Desk, 3rd Floor, at the Mandel Library (561) 868-7703) to report an incident. If necessary, we will contact local law enforcement, provide escort, offer a safe place, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to make sure they feel safe for the rest of BAM Festival.

Remember: Respect others space and face. If you would like to take a picture with or of another fan or an author or other participant, always ask first. Common sense and kindness are always the rule.



BAM Festival, Inc. is committed to maintaining and establishing welcoming environments at each of our events by supporting our community’s multiple learning styles, diverse cultural, and professional backgrounds while focusing on each participant’s functional needs during BAM Festival, Inc. events.

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