Where else would you find hundreds of African-American children’s books, plenty of award-winning authors and illustrators and over 4K attendees that included every member of the family, from the grandparents down to the newborns? At the 25th annual African-American Children’s Book Fair. This incredible event was held on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, in Philadelphia, at the Community College of Philadelphia located on 17th and Spring Garden Streets in the city’s downtown area.
With the mantra “preserve a legacy, and buy a book,” the 25th annual African-American Children’s Book Fair kicked off the first Saturday of Black History Month 2017 with an overabundance of African-American books to exhibit and an overflow of brotherly love to spread. Numerous authors were on site to sign and sell their works of art to eagerly awaiting children and parents. Some of the notable authors included award-winning author Javaka Steptoe (Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat), the husband and wife author team of G. Todd Taylor and Morgan E. Taylor (Dad, Who Will I Be? and Daddy’s Little Princess) as well as rolling out publisher Munson Steed (Little Professor Skye: Favorite Things).
The event was deemed the most successful youth literary event ever in the region and had people of all races travel from far and wide simply to attend. Several news outlets covered the event and at least three radio stations broadcasted live directly from the event. The local NPR affiliate was on site, as well as two television stations and a handful of newspaper reporters. The traffic of guests was constant from the time the doors opened to the public at 1 p.m., until the doors closed at 4p.m. Patrons stood in line well past the 4 p.m. closing time simply to ensure they purchased their hand-picked book selections.
The event offered lots of family activities, which included kid-friendly activity stations where anxious children could release some energy by drawing, making crafts or simply reading a book of their choice. Other activities included a reading circle where selected authors orally presented portions of their book to an attentive crowd, and a children’s knitting clinic where kids learned how to make their own scarves. One of the other highlights of this year’s event was Literary Row where corporate sponsors pre-purchased brand new books to give away to teachers and educators for use in their classrooms.
Event founder Vanesse J. Lloyd-Sgambati has been feverishly working over the past 25 years to ensure a significant presence continues to be felt in the literary world for African American children’s books. The African American Children’s Book Project was formed to promote and preserve children’s literature written by or about African Americans. Her very first book fair in 1992 boasted over 250 attendees and has since grown to this year’s staggering 4K+ attendees. Noted as one of the largest single-day events for African American children’s books in the country, Lloyd-Sgambati has definitely made her literary footprint in history. Wherever she goes, she continues to reinforce her slogan: “A book opens a world of opportunities,” and from her successful track record, she’s proving that, one incredibly efficacious book fair at a time.
To find out about future events offered from the African American Children’s Book Project, visit their website at http://theafricanamericanchildrensbookproject.org/. Also, be sure to spin through the photo gallery below to get a feel for the overall experience and drop a line in the comments section to let us know what you think.
Photo Gallery Credit: Porsha Monique for Steed Media