Celebrating literary excellence, the African American Children’s Book Fair returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, marking its 32nd anniversary as one of the oldest and largest literary events dedicated to Black literature and creators. Founded by Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati in 1992, this free event has grown in popularity, becoming a testament to the community’s hunger for diverse stories and voices.
The Evolution of a Literary Haven:
Originally hosted at Wanamaker’s department store, now known as Macy’s, the fair has come a long way since its inception. Over three decades, it has grown from a modest start in a department store to a flourishing event at the Community College of Philadelphia, where it attracted around 4,000 attendees in a single day. Founder Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, reflecting on the journey, expressed the need for a larger space to accommodate the expanding audience.
This year’s milestone event takes a giant leap forward as the African American Children’s Book Fair finds its home in the expansive halls of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The move to this larger venue underscores the fair’s remarkable growth and impact, providing an even more significant platform for Black literature and creators.
At the heart of the fair’s mission is the belief that books have the power to open up worlds of possibilities. Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati emphasizes the transformative role of books, stating, “A book gives you the opportunity to see the world beyond you.” By showcasing a diverse array of literature centered on African American experiences, the fair aims to empower children and inspire them to explore perspectives beyond their own.
The success and longevity of the African American Children’s Book Fair are deeply rooted in its connection to the Philadelphia community. The event has evolved based on the community’s needs and desires, highlighting the importance of representation in literature. As the fair enters its 30th year, it continues to be a space where families can come together to celebrate and embrace the richness of Black storytelling.