Abilene, TX
Storybook Capital of America®

a great adventure is about to begin

Once Upon A Time...

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. 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 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. The CALF brings people from multiple states each year, and NCCIL 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.





Adventure Guide

Storybook Capital of America® Adventure Guide

Over the years, Abilene has undertaken a series of unique efforts to showcase the wonders of children’s literature. The city is home to the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, the Storybook Sculpture Project and the annual Children’s Art + Literacy Festival in June. To find all the Storybook Sculptures in downtown Abilene, download the Adventure Guide or pick one up for free at the T&P Depot, 1101 N. 1st St. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and until 12 p.m. Friday



Children’s Performing Arts Series

Come see professional touring theater companies present child friendly shows at the Historic Paramount Theatre. Some shows include an exclusive after party. Past shows include magicians, “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Jungle Book,” “Pinkalicious” and more!



Young Audiences of Abilene

Each summer, YAA offers four different performances at the Abilene Public Library. Past performers include ventriloquist Nancy Burks Worcester with “Nancy & Her Friends,” singing zoologist Lucas Miller and Geppetto’s Marionette Theater of Dallas. Go to www.yaabilene.org for the summer schedule.

All performances are at 10:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. No admission charge.
Shows are approximately 45 minutes long. Please arrive early.



National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature

The NCCIL collaborates with award-winning artists to produce exhibitions of their artwork that are distinctive, appealing to museum visitors of all ages, and of the highest quality. Following its debut at the NCCIL gallery, each exhibition travels to museums, public libraries and galleries nationwide.



Spark at The Grace Museum

Located on the second floor of The Grace Museum, Spark is a hands-on exploratory space designed for all ages to enjoy! Children, adults, and families are invited to explore three distinct areas that include over 30 interactive learning stations created to expand your knowledge of art and local history. There are wide open areas as well as cozy nooks to draw, build, paint, act, read, dance, and make music. Following a complete renovation of the former Grace children’s museum, Spark opened to the public on May 1, 2021.



Frontier Texas!

Frontier Texas! brings together cutting-edge technology and history and lets visitors experience life on the early Texas frontier. Frontier Texas! is a history museum, gift shop and the official visitor center for Abilene and the Texas Forts Trail Region. Now showing the exhibition “Blood & Treasure on the Frontier.”



Children’s Art + Literacy Festival

The second weekend of each June, downtown Abilene is transformed into a childhood adventure into art and literacy for three days. The CALF honors a different picture book artist each year whose work is on exhibit at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. Activities include the Storybook Parade, artist talk at Paramount Theatre, Storybook Sculptures, dramatic readings, live animals, costumes, magic shows, live music and art activities. ArtWalk night on Thursday is free. Registration required for Friday and Saturday activities where you can earn 11 buttons for your lanyard.



Storytime at the Abilene Public Library

The Abilene Public Library has three locations with programming for children year-round. These include Baby Steps for ages 0-1 for infants and parents to enjoy stories, activities and stimulus of all kinds. Lapsit programs are for ages 1-2 for children who are past the infant stage but not quite toddling. Parents can join their kids for rhymes, music, short stories and more. Toddler Time is for ages 2-3 for children who enjoy longer stories. Pre-School Storytime for ages 3 to 6 offers children the opportunity to listen to stories, join in finger play, sing and watch puppets. There are also programs for older ages, Make & Take Crafts, Family Fun days, Super Storytime, Literacy Kits and a Summer Reading Program.




The Seymour Passport Project

For the 2013 Children’s Art & Literacy Festival, six 3-foot-tall Seymour characters were permanently hidden at different Abilene locations. Seymour is a character created by Walter Wick, the 2013 CALF honoree. To help children find each Seymour, a passport was created. Visitors to each destination can have their passport stamped and receive a Seymour sticker. The passports are free. No admission is charged to see the Seymours. The six locations are: The Grace Museum, Frontier Texas!, The Center for Contemporary Arts, Abilene Public Library, National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature and the Abilene Zoo.




Every second Thursday of the month, the Center for Contemporary Arts coordinates a mini arts festival with a different theme. ArtWalk highlights the best of the visual and performing arts in Abilene. The Abilene Cultural District downtown comes alive with between 800 to 1,400 individuals. ArtWalk is a family-friendly event that enables a broad cross-section of the community to enjoy free offerings of art and entertainment and to eat and shop.



Coloring Book

Coloring Book

Create your own storybook masterpiece.



Storybook Garden

Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden



Storybook Sculptures

Storybook Sculptures




Plan your adventure today!


Let’s Go!





Become part of the story by attending art and literacy events in Abilene or supporting our programming and changing lives


“We can’t wait until next year. The CALF festival is one of our favorite events of the year! It’s well worth the journey from Alaska!”Stephanie, Anchorage, Alaska

“Thank you Abilene, Texas. … You know how to throw a party/parade and make a boy from Belfast feel welcome. I will use the honorary citizenship to your town wisely.”Oliver Jeffers, Author/Illustrator and CALF 2018 Honoree

“There’s not that many places in this country that put that kind of conviction into making the art of stories for children a vivid and vital part of their experiences growing up, so bravo to Abilene, Texas.”William Joyce, Author/Illustrator and CALF 2014 Honoree

“Never been to Abilene before and wow! What a cool place. Everybody I’ve met has been so friendly. The events have been spectacular.”Peter Brown, Author/Illustrator and CALF 2019 Honoree

“Enjoyable, enriching, educational, inspirational.”Carolyn, Benbrook

“Excellent! 10 out of 10.”Teresa, Dallas


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