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ChiTeen Lit Fest 2.0

ChiTeen Lit Fest, the creative festival organized for-teens-by-teens was back in April for its second year!

The festival brings Chicagoland teens together with top industry talent all to provide a safe and creative space for young adults to unlock and discover their unique voice through the literary arts.  With featured guests like Tara Mahadevan, Nate Marshall, Megan Stielstra, The Sun Brothers and the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 2015 21st Century Award recipient, Eric May – the only thing more impressive than the festival’s line-up this year, was the dedication of the teens who put it together.

Writers Panel: (L-R) Megan Stielstra, Eric May, Wesley Sun, Tara Mahadevan, Nate Marshall
Writers Panel: (L-R) Megan Stielstra, Eric May, Wesley Sun, Tara Mahadevan, Nate Marshall

Similar to watching any downtown board room throw ideas on a white board, watching the Teen Advisory Council strategize, send out emails and tackle the festival’s overall logistics has been nothing short of amazing – demonstrating what a fine-tuned machine the Advisory Council has become over the past eight months. The Teen Advisory Council is part of the Library’s YOUmedia program.
“We know what each other are good at” explained one Teen Council member, “so we don’t have to assign anything anymore. We just know if it’s this kind of work, then this person will get it done.”
From creating a unique brand identity; to developing a full-blown website and festival app; mastering marketing and PR – and even performing outreach to institutions, professors, mentors and featured guests – one thing has been clear. This is a group of teens that knows how to get things done.


From September to April, each of the teens on the Teen Advisory Council dedicated one night a week to the ChiTeen Lit Fest; fitting literary arts and creating a safe space for teens to discover their voice into their busy schedules.  Understanding the demands on Juniors and Seniors in high school, when asked how when they started their day – in chorus they responded with a smattering of “5AM, 6AM, 5:30AM.”  Watching these teens dedicate themselves to the success of the ChiTeen Lit Fest has highlighted something generations have noted for centuries. Who our future is, and how incredibly adept and able they are at getting things done.
As per the future of the festival, when one teen was asked why he joined the committee, he chuckled, explaining: “They told me it brought in about 500 people. And I said, 500? We can do a lot better than that.”
Funding and sponsorship of this for-teens-by-teens event has been provided by Hive Chicago. With their generosity, the teens have been able to meet their goal, growing the event to well over 500 attendees in two years.
Congratulations to the Teen Advisory Council for an outstanding job on this year’s ChiTeen Lit Fest. For more information on the ChiTeen Lit Fest, visit