On a cold, rainy day in mid-2018, authors Elizabeth Acevedo and Daniel José Older addressed a particularly engaged crowd at the outdoor Fordham Plaza about fostering a love of reading in young children. Both pulled from their personal experiences – Acevedo as a former teacher and Older as someone who grew up in a house full of books – to give the Bronx Book Festival attendees tips they could incorporate in their own lives. Despite the bad weather, the festival was a success because of the work put in by Saraciea J. Fennell, founder of The Bronx is Reading and organizer of the festival, and a small team of dedicated volunteers. This year, the festival is back for its second annual event, and it’s pulling out all the stops. Today, organizers announced that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be in conversation with Sesame Street‘s Sonia Manzano.
Fennell, who is of Honduran descent, started the festival because growing up in Bronx, she had never attended a book festival. Authors and illustrators didn’t visit her school. And at the time of the first festival, the borough had no book stores (Barnes & Noble had recently shut down, and Noëlle Santos was working to launch The Lit. Bar). While Santos took care of the book store thing, her mission remains as important as it was, which is why she and her team have once again been hard at work.
“I am so thrilled to have another stellar line-up for the Bronx Book Festival,” she said in a statement. “We have lots of stuff in store for Bronxites and the general public. The Bronx is Reading – Bronx Book Festival is more than just a festival, it’s a community event and all are invited. Even if you don’t read, come to Fordham Plaza and Fordham University to enjoy the entertainment!”
The festival is a few weeks away, but here’s a few of the authors you should check out.
The Bronx Book Festival takes place June 9, 2019. The event is free, but you need to RSVP to attend.
Sulma Arzu-Brown is a Garifuna woman from Honduras. She wrote “Bad Hair Does Not Exist! /¡Pelo malo no existe!” She decided to write the book after her babysitter said her daughter – then 3 years old – had pelo malo. Instead of getting upset, she channeled her energy into writing Bad Hair Does Not Exist! for all the little girls who “are Black, Afro-descendent, Afro-Latinas and Garifuna.”
Angie Cruz is a New York-born Dominicana, who often traveled back and forth between the US and the DR. She has written two novels – Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee. Her next book – Dominicana – will be released later this year.
Natasha Díaz is a freelance writer from New York. Her upcoming book, Color Me In, is based on her real-life experiences growing up as a mixed-race Brazilian and Jewish Girl.
Adriana Herrera is a Dominican writer who “loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.”
Stephanie Jimenez is a Queens-based writer and former Fulbright recipient. Her debut novel, They Could Have Named Her Anything, follows a teen who dreams of getting out of her neighborhood, especially after striking up a friendship with a privileged classmate.
Growing up, Torrey Maldonado disliked reading, but when he was introduced to books that told stories of people like him, everything changed. (This even inspired him to become a middle school teacher.) His books include Tight and Secret Saturdays.
Mark Oshiro wrote Anger is a Gift, follows a teen who, along with his classmates, has been treated like a criminal at school. The students decide to fight back against the unfair treatment.
Award-winning writer Lilliam Rivera is behind young adult novels Dealing in Dreams and The Education of Margot Sanchez.
Check out the rest of the lineup here.