The First Bedford-Stuyvesant Children’s Book & Reading Fair, an intergenerational literacy event featuring reading awareness and learning activities for families and young people, will take place Sunday, July 18 (12:00 Noon – 5pm) at Von King Park, 670 Lafayette Avenue (between Tompkins & Marcy Avenues), with concurrent informative and inspirational workshops (2:00pm – 4:30pm) for parents and caregivers at the Magnolia Tree Earth Center across the street at 677 Lafayette Avenue.
“The Bedford-Stuyvesant Children’s Book & Reading Fair is designed to celebrate reading while promoting the message that ‘literacy is the foundation of learning,” say the publishers of Our Time Press community newspaper.
“The long-range goal is to help impact reading scores in area school districts. The short-term goal is to increase awareness of existing reading, literacy and educational resources in the community, like Magnolia, the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Child Development Support Center, and many more.”
Schools Without Walls
Von King Park and its neighbor Magnolia Tree Earth Center, are the “schools-without-walls” locations for this daylong event. Local writers and national authors will sign books, neighborhood “Griots” will tell their stories and local residents, including business, political and civic leaders will read from their favorite works or share life experiences in informal group sessions. The Von King Park open-air amphitheatre will provide the setting for brief presentations and it will also substitute as a large reading room space for readers of all ages.
Also, while a child’s stroll-along of book characters will be a highlight, the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant workshops for parents and caregivers at Magnolia led by distinguished specialists, educators, parent peers and writers are intended to be just as lively.
In Von King Park, between 12:00 noon – 5:00 P.M., event highlights include storytelling and “telling our story” sessions, in the Our Time Press Griot Circle with Joan Maynard, executive director emeritus of The Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford Stuyvesant History; noted scholar and African storyteller Dr. Mary Helen Harden Umolu, chairperson, Department of Mass Communications, Creative & Performing Arts & Speech at Medgar Evers College; Tuskegee Airman John Mulzac (see page 11); artist/sculptor/teacher Otto Neals with art curator Dolores Inniss Carty, Mary Sobers, Jitu Weusi, BaabaSurya and others; origami craft sessions with award-winning paper-folders Karen Bishop and Vernon Isaacs (who is known for his Metro Card creations, among other creations); face painting by artist/educator Derrick Cross, book giveaways and a stroll-along of book characters and heroes with teen artist Jitu Maat, a protege of acclaimed artist/author Danny Simmons, who also will be present.
The Patricia Robinson Music School, Von King Park summer program and others will provide ambient in-park or a brief on-stage performing presence.
Author Book Signings
As of this printing, confirmed authors include: Sam Anderson, Carolyn M. Davis – also a publisher, Kani Diop (“Eye on Africa”), David Mark Greaves (‘The Sycamore Tree”), Kellie Magnus (“Little Lion Goes to School”), Ansel Pitcairn (illustrator, “African-American Heroes”), Lynnette Velasco (“Zinzi”) and Cathie Wright-Lewis are confirmed to attend. Among the invited authors are: Dr. lindamichellebaron, Bryan Collier, George Ford, Wade Hudson, Walter Dean Myers, Angela Pinckney, Jaira Placide, Javako Steptoe, Phyllis Stickney, Wanda Thomas.
Workshops for parents/guardians/caregivers (and their children) sponsored by Our Time Press and the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Education Committee, will take place in Magnolia Tree Earth Center, currently celebrating 40 years of nature education in the community. The topics will range from “Are You Raising Winners or Losers?” to “What to do if Your Child is Arrested.” The presenters include Aminisha Black, Our Time Press’ “Parent Notebook” columnist; Marceline Watler, PhD, Agency for Child Development; Debra Lamb ________, Renee Gregory-Turner, Assistant District Attorney; and Willa Jones, executive director of the Association of Black Social Workers. Also, in Von King Cultural Arts Center’s Eubie Blake Theater, Marcia Pendelton will lead a seminar centering on reading stage productions with children, acting out scenes, and attending the play together. Carolyn M. Davis, CEO, Word for Word Publishing, Inc., will explain “How to Get Your Book Published.” A genealogy workshop is also being planned.
FREE Books, Information and Sharing
Free information will be distributed at the workshops, and in the Park. The Brooklyn Public Library will distribute Reading is Fundamental books, and provide information on its services. In the Griot Circle, there will be a “kiosk” of materials from the Office of Public Education and Interpretation of the African Burial Ground. Community-based organizations disseminating free information and advice will rim the park’s northern quadrant on the Lafayette Avenue side. Nationwide Insurance, ever a popular and well-received presence at community events, will provide lessons in “safety literacy” during its distribution of much-needed home safety items. As of this writing Dial, Penguin and Simon and Schuster will provide books. Scholastic is offering “Read & Rise” materials. (Free items and gift bags will be given out on a First Come, First Served basis.)
Residents, friends and supporters are invited to join in the initiative by bringing a book and reading in the Park, sharing a story or participating in any of the seven (as of this printing) workshops. Also, elected officials, community leaders and area residents will participate in reading or storytelling sessions with small groupings on the grass, in the amphitheater or in the park’s cultural center.
“This Book and Reading Fair is a celebration of reading and learning,” says Lemuel Mial, manager of Von King Park. “It is the first event of its kind for this area of Brooklyn, and it has special significance in that it is being held here. Formerly known as Tompkins Park, Von King Park has a library history dating back to 1899; it is the site of one of New York City’s first Free Libraries. The park also is celebrating 135 years as a community landmark and family destination. It is my hope that this event will be the spark to help create another library here in the Park.”
“So much can be learned about life just by knowing words associated with environment and nature,” says Arthur Sheppard, executive director of Magnolia Tree. “In support of the fair, Magnolia Tree Center is hosting a children’s art exhibition, and parent/child workshops to deliver the message: reading is essential for a child’s growth from a sapling to maturity.”
“Reading is essential to every aspect of modern-day life,” says Lynnette Velasco, president of Black Americans in Publishing. “We are happy to join with Von King Park, Our Time Press, the Brownstoners of Bedford- Stuyvesant and other community groups to support programs that promote our best and our brightest, and encourage our children to excel. This event is not presented for the community; it is presented by the community. We expect this day to be festive, with the message that while learning is serious business, it can be fun.”
~Conceived by DBG Media, publishers of Our Time Press, the event is sponsored by Magnolia Tree Earth Center, the managers of Von King Park, Our Time Press and Legacy PR in association with the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Black Americans in Publishing. It is also supported by organizations and individuals, including, the Agency for Child Development, Child Development Support Corp. with Freddie Hamilton and Mireille Massac, Bedford Stuyvesant Community Head Start, Bedford-Stuyvesant Health Task Force, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Big Deal Books, Bridge Street Prep, Brooklyn Public Library, Central Brooklyn Churches, Brownstone Books, Long Life Information and Referral Network, Inc., Nationwide Insurance, New Visions for Public Schools, Nichole Anderson, Senior Citizens Centers, 79th Precinct Community Council, Elizabeth Fulcher of the _________, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Office of Public Education and Interpretation of The African Burial Ground, The Charter Excellence School, Walk Tall Girl Productions, The Weeksville Society, Word for Word Publishing Company, UniWorld Group, advertisers in Our Time Press community newspaper, Brownstone Books plus Scholastic publishing companies.
No vendors are allowed at the Book Fair that day. If you are interested in supporting or volunteering, please E-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see www.ourtimepress.com. Or call 719-574-5427. (See ad in Centerfold for approximate times and refer to www.ourtimepress.com for Book Fair program and schedule updates.)