Nearly two decades ago, 250 people braved the cold to attend the first African American Children’s Book Fair at John Wanamaker Department Store in Philadelphia. Year after year, word spread and enthusiasm for the celebration grew. Today, the book fair, held in the gymnasium of the Community College of Philadelphia, attracts thousands. In fact, not only is it one of the oldest single-day events for African-American children’s books, it has grown to become one of the largest too.
Founder Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati is a tireless advocate and promoter. It’s all part of her mission to preserve our legacy through books.
“The 18th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair will highlight some of the best books our generation,” says Lloyd-Sgambati. “These authors and illustrators cover every aspect of African American lives. The books are well-written and beautifully illustrated. These books will open the door to a love of reading and enlightened children of all ages. This year also opens the door to our campaign to stress the importance of having a home library. Our mantra is “TAKE A BOOK HOME.” Every home should have an area that is the family reading center. Also getting our children to read means everyone in the family should be reading.”
Lloyd-Sgambati started The African American Children’s Book Fair to meet a need she saw in her community. For some children, the book fair will be the first time they meet a black children’s book author or illustrator, the first time they receive a personalized book.
“Every time a book is sold that means a story is told,” Lloyd-Sgambati told BBS in this interview. “Telling those stories enables the African American book industry to grow. This growth will mean that our legacy, our history is preserved.”
Several companies and organizations support classroom libraries by giving away new books of the fair participants to educators including PECO, the local utility company; The Philadelphia Daily News and I Lead- The Urban Genesis Project. Other sponsors include The Literary, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Comcast and Health Partners which provides resources to parents.
Please spread the word about this important event and stop by if you’re in the Philadelphia area. Several of the guest authors and illustrators are past and current 28 Days Later honorees. Here’s your chance to meet a children’s book author or illustrator of color, support literature and purchase a treasure — a signed book.
18th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair
Saturday, February 27, 2010, 1-3 p.m.
Community College of Philadelphia (Gymnasium)
17th Spring Garden Street
Free and open to the public
For more information, please call 215-878-BOOK
Guest authors and illustrators include: