Three dozen nationally known authors and illustrators will partake in this weekend’s annual African American Children’s Book Fair.

Hailed as the oldest and largest single-day children’s literary event of its kind the annual free event draws thousands. According to event founder and producer Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, the goal is to provide parents, caregivers and educators from the Philadelphia region a variety of literary tools for children of all backgrounds.

The book fair also highlights the organization’s “Preserve A Legacy, Buy A Book,” initiative to create home libraries.

“This is a book fair for all children, it is not exclusive to African American children, to celebrate our history and to know and understand our country’s history,” explained Lloyd-Sgambati. “These books are empowering and lightning and enriching and cover all aspects of life. There are books that will make you think and books that will make you smile.”

Among the award winners featured at the event will be illustrator James E. Ransome and author Lesa Cline-Ransome both recipients of the 2018 Coretta Scott King Book Award for illustrator honors for “Before She Was Harriet: The Story of Harriet Tubman”.

“Receiving the CSK (Coretta Scott King) author honor was a dream come true,” Cline-Ransome said. “But winning this honor was so much more. It was also about joining a community of talented authors and illustrators whose work honors Coretta Scott King’s legacy of promoting literacy and African-American culture and voices.”

The nearly 3-decade-old book fair has become a tradition for some families with adults who attended the program as children now bringing their children reflecting the lifelong impact of reading. Held yearly on the first Saturday of February, the event heralds the start of African American History Month.

“The theme of this year’s book fair is ‘icon’,” continued Lloyd-Sgambati. “This is 400 years commemoration of African-Americans enslaved in America and I felt like children’s books are a perfect lens to view our history. All of the accomplishments that people have done as well as little-known stories of people who overcame obstacles to persevere and go on to greatness. For all people, so much of who we are in this country is reflected in the history of African Americans.”

The 27th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Community College of Philadelphia, 17th and Spring Garden streets, (gym entrance is on 17th Street), from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The first 500 children will receive a free book.

For more information, call (215) 878-BOOK or visit theafricanamericanchildrensbookproject.org.

bbooker@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5749

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