18th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair

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.”

Lloyd-Sgambati said securing sponsors for these non-profit efforts is always a challenge, but those who come to the table support the effort to make sure our children have books in the home.  NBC10, a local television station, will give away brand new books of the guest authors/illustrators: “For some children this ownership and the opportunity to meet the person who wrote and illustrator the book make the pages comes to life.”

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:

 E.B. Lewis

Carole Boston Weatherford

Tonya Bolden

Deborah Gregory

R. Gregory Christie

Sean Qualls

Eric Velasquez

Nicole Bailey-Williams

Walter Dean Myers

Linda Trice

Charisse Carney-Nunes

Lynda Jones

Lorraine Dowdy Gordon

Jerry Craft

London Ladd

Kelly Starling Lyons

Booker T. Mattison

Kekla Magoon

Felicia Pride

Wade Hudson

Gerald Purnell

Cheryl Willis Hudson

Mutiya Visions

Vanessa Newton

Lori Nelson

13 thoughts on “18th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair

  1. This is going to be a phenomenal event–the list of authors scheduled to appear is amazing. I WISH I COULD GO! I guess I’ll have to live vicariously through blogs and photos, but I’ll definitely be there in spirit.

  2. Wow . . . what a WONDERFUL EVENT! I wish I could be here, too! Hope someone will be able to report back on this through their blog. The lineup of authors & illustrators is FANTASTIC! 🙂

  3. I look forward to the annual African American Children’s Book fair every year! However, due to the crowds and the great authors that are present each year, a larger location and longer hours will only enhance the opportunity for everyone to meet, greet, and support . I hope consideration will be given in planning for next year.

  4. Hi, Ms. Sgambati,
    Recently surfing the net, I ended up on C-SPAN2, the book channel in my area. Few things have impressed me more than the panel of brillant writers,editors,and publishers I saw there.
    I am a retired educator who has self-published two YA books since my retirement.
    I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment expressed by the panel of the challenges facing our race when it comes to writing, publishing, promoting and marketing our books.
    This note seeks information on how I may get my book out to the potential wider market.
    Please view my website: http://www.nannasway.com
    I am so excited and hopeful for a breakthrough. My third offering is in progress.
    I look forward to hearing from you to answer any questions you may have.

    Rena R. Shipp

  5. Date needs to be corrected on the website which notes the date as February 27 instead of the correct date of February 5, 2011.

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