African American Children’s Book Fair to be held virtually this year

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Renee G
·3 min read
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The book fair usually draws in about 4,000 people

The African American Children’s Book Fair, one of the nation’s oldest and largest Black children’s book fairs will not be held in person in 2021.

Founded in 1992, the African American Children’s Book Fair typically takes place in Philadelphia, but the nonprofit behind the event, the African American Children’s Book Project, has opted for a virtual session on Feb. 6. Registration is free.

“The Book Project was created to promote and preserve children’s literature written by or about African Americans,” said Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, literary consultant and creator of the event.

The book fair originated as a Black History month activity that was held at the old John Wanamaker’s department store. It has since evolved into an attraction that draws about 4,000 people to the single-day affair. The event sells more books in three hours than any other Black retailer in the country, according to Lloyd-Sgambati.

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After receiving numerous calls from people wondering if the event would take place in light of the pandemic, Lloyd-Sgambati had to figure out how to pull it off from a virtual perspective. She made calls and managed to round up 34 award-winning authors and illustrators from around the country willing to participate in the virtual event.

One of the participant’s is New York Times bestselling author, Carole Boston Weatherford, who has written more than 40 children’s books throughout her career, and has been participating in the book fair for the past 15 years.

“It’s just such an enriching experience for children and for families … the children and the families and people who love books get a chance to experience probably more African American children’s books than they will experience in any other single place,” Weatherford said.

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The theme of the event is “Black Books Are,” and with so many of the authors coming — virtually that is – from different parts of the country, Lloyd-Sgambati wants as many people as possible to be a part of the Feb. 6 book fair.

“The virtual event is free.” she said. “Come. Check it out and be enlightened, be enriched, and be empowered.”

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