Kick-Off Black History Month with Philadelphia’s African American Children’s Book Fair

By Emily S. Mon, January 27, 2020

At a moment of growing awareness around the importance of representation and diversity in children’s books, the African American Children’s Book Fair continues the effort it has been devoted to for nearly three decades: bringing the books of award-winning Black authors and illustrators to the families, communities, and young learners who need them.

This year's book fair will take place on Saturday, February 1, at the Community College of Philadelphia at 17th & Spring Garden Streets, from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., and as always, admission is free. This year's theme is "A Book Opens Up A World of Opportunities". The first 500 guests receive complimentary books, and there is a giveaway for teachers, as well.

Book Fair founder Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati wants to put an end to the myth that Black and Brown families don’t buy books for their kids. In an interview with The Brown Bookshelf, she says, "Our mantra is: Preserve a legacy, and buy a book."

Now in its 28th year, the African American Children’s Book Fair’s long tenure means that attendance has become a tradition among families, with adults who attended as children bringing their own children to experience a literary culture that includes and inspires them. One of the largest events of its kind in the nation, the Book Fair is popular with educators, families, and anyone interested in representative children’s books and their creators. “The more we know about each other,” Lloyd-Sgambati says, “the better we co-exist. This goes for all us. Make sure your child’s library is multicultural.”

Bring your family to meet award-winning children’s book creators and listen to them read from their work. This year will feature authors Derrick Barnes, Pat Cummings, Eric Velasquez, and Renee Watson, as well as illustrator E.B.Lewis, among many others.

In addition to a wonderful collection of imaginative books for children, the fair also hosts storytellers, art-making stations, and other organizations and resources. The Free Library will, of course, be in attendance, so stop by and say hello!


For more information, including a listing of authors and illustrators who will be present at this year's Book Fair, visit their website.

All children should see themselves reflected in the books they read.
All children should see themselves reflected in the books they read.
Young adults find community in reading with representation.
Young adults find community in reading with representation.
African American Children's Book Fair founder Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati
African American Children's Book Fair founder Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati

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