The month of February is always wrought with the possibility of winter’s wrath. Yet, while a blizzard assailed the Northeast, the Philadelphia region was spared, and a couple thousand area residents bundled up to attend the 21st Annual African-American Children’s Book Fair. Over 21 nationally known bestselling authors and illustrators participated in the free two-hour event on Saturday, which is hailed as the oldest and largest single day of its kind.
As the 2,500 people started filing into the Community College of Philadelphia site, there was a buzz as adults and children met the stars of the literary community. Over 700 books were given to each child as they entered, and there were long rows of tables with other literary freebies. A festive sprit filled the air as squeals of delight accompanied hi-fives to the NBC Peacock mascot and the Ronald McDonald clown. Most importantly, each child seemingly had an armful of books that they were gleefully anticipating reading.
“This is by far the favorite event that I do,” said Renee Watson, author “Harlem's Little Blackbird.” “I do school events, public schools workshops and all of that, but I love coming to this event. Seeing families with their children and grandchildren; grandparents and teachers coming in and getting books it's beautiful it's a wonderful event.”
According to event producer Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, her goal is to provide parents, caregivers and educators from the tri-state area tools for children to read outside of their normal school course work, and make more responsible decisions about their lifestyles.
“As a parent, and particularly as a member of council, I'm out at community meetings a lot and I am speaking with people a lot, so at the end of the day when I come home we always spend time reading together,” said City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who brought her 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter Carson. “It's so important. It's time for us to spend together and practice a skill that she will need for the rest of her life. “