21st Annual African American Children's Book Fair

The Annual African American Children’s Book Fair is set to begin on February 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Community College of Philadelphia

In a time where the newest video game or smart phone is captivating kids, one woman is determined to put books back into the hands of children.

Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati is the founder of “one of the oldest and largest single-day events for African American children’s books in the country.”

This Saturday, February 9, the 21st Annual African American Children’s Book Fair will take place in the gymnasium of Community College of Philadelphia at Spring Garden & 17th Street.

The event is free and open to the public.

The book fair offers children the chance to meet some of the best-selling authors and illustrators in the nation. Some of the authors and illustrators who will attend include Jabari Asim, Jerry Craft, Floyd Cooper, Nancy Devard, Marilyn Nelson, James Ransome, Eric Velasquez, along with many more.

On average, about 3,500 people attend the event each year since it began in 1992, according to Lloyd-Sgambati. She was not expecting such a positive outcome when the event first started.

“I was really surprised about how many people showed up,” said Lloyd-Sgambati.  “The parents said we need more of this in the community. “

Last year, Marilyn Nelson attended for the first time.

“I arrived early and there was already families lined up and down the street and around the block,” said Nelson, an American poet and children’s book author. “There must have been a 1000 people out there. I was blown away.”

The success of the program lies in the idea that children who read outside of school will make more responsible decisions about their lifestyles.

With the help of sponsors like Comcast, McDonald's, HealthPartners and PECO, kids and educators who attend the book fair will be able to get free books from the authors at the event while supplies last. NBC10 is hosting the reading circle.

“For a lot of these children, this is the first time they will own a book,” said Lloyd-Sgambati. “One of the things I love is really educating the children on the joy of reading for pleasure.”

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