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The Kennedy Center's Fifteenth Annual Multicultural Children's Book Festival, Saturday, September 11, from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. on Roof Level of the Kennedy Center

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About Multicultural Children's Book Festival

The Kennedy Center invites all children, parents, and educators to the fifteenth anniversary year of the annual free Multicultural Children's Book Festival and to celebrate Family Literacy Day on Saturday, September 11, from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. on the Roof Level of the Kennedy Center. Books come to life in this afternoon-long series of readings by authors and illustrators; book signings; and other interactive performances and events.

The festival is a project of the Kennedy Center Education Department. The event attracts more than 7,000 people who are able to find many new volumes for their school and family libraries among the hundreds of collected and displayed books. More than 400 titles and multiple copies of story books, picture books, fairy tales, biographies, historical perspectives, novels, specialty books written for toddlers through teens, and a special selection of performing arts books will be available for purchase.

The subjects of these books are the lives, cultures, and stories of African, African American, Asian, Arab, Caribbean, Latino, and Native American peoples. A portion of the book sale proceeds will benefit the Kennedy Center education programs.


History of the Kennedy Center Multicultural Children's Book Festival

In 1996, the Kennedy Center Multicultural Children's Book Festival began as a collaboration between the Kennedy Center and Toni Trent Parker, president and co-founder of the children's book service Black Books Galore! (BBG!) who later launched Kids Cultural Books (KCB), a non-profit organization, in 1998. The original book service began 15 years ago when three African American mothers who were frustrated by the lack of children's books featuring African American themes, came together to create BBG! The company has been recognized as Parenting Leaders in Parenting Magazine (March 1998) and has been featured in articles in the New York Times and American Visions, among others, as well as on television and radio. Now produced by the Kennedy Center, the book festival has grown to include books and authors representing a wide array of cultures and experiences. Each year, thousands and thousands of young people and their parents have the opportunity to attend readings by leading authors and performances by arts organizations, and peruse hundreds and hundreds of books that reflect various cultures and themes from throughout the world. Since its inception, the festival has brought dozens of renowned authors, illustrators, and special guests to the Kennedy Center, including Pat Cummings, Nikki Giovanni, Nikki Grimes, Karen Katz, E.B. Lewis, Cedella Marley, Walter Dean Myers, Alma Powell, Laurence Yep, Spike Lee, and more. Being situated in Washington, DC, the festival has been a showcase for the abundance of local talent and creativity with Jabari Asim, Lulu Delacre, Edwin Fontánez, Eloise Greenfield, and others making regular appearances. In addition, the festival enjoys the continued support of the Community Advisory Board of the Kennedy Center which has served as advocate for the project in the local diverse communities. By supporting this book festival that represents many cultures in children's literature, the festival remains committed to the vision and spirit of its-cofounder Toni Trent Parker. Upon the festival's 10th anniversary, the reading series was named the Toni Trent Parker Reading Series in Parker's memory and in honor of her dedication to literacy and education.


About Toni Trent Parker (1947-2005)

Black Books Galore! and Kids Cultural Books founder Toni Trent Parker was a pivotal figure in the world of children's literature. Her 1998 paperback, Black Books Galore! Guide to Great African American Children's Books (John Wiley & Sons), is a comprehensive guide for parents and educators. Featuring annotations on 500 books and references to more than 200 others, it was the most complete in the field. Also in 1998, Parker launched Kids Cultural Books, a non-profit organization created to organize African American and Multicultural Children's Book Festivals with the purpose of promoting literacy, encouraging reading, and providing communities with the rich resources of African American and other ethnic children's literature. Through the book festivals, produced in cities around the country, Kids Cultural Books has reached thousands, introducing them to countless books and to those who create them. Parker's other titles include three more in the Black Books Galore! series: …Guide to Great African American Children's Books About Boys (2000), …Books About Girls (2000), and …More Great African American Children's Books (2001). Hugs and Hearts, Painted Eggs and Chocolate Bunnies, Sweets and Treats; Snowflake Kisses and Gingerbread Smiles, and Being Me: A Keepsake Scrapbook for African American Girls were all published in 2002. Her last book, Sienna's Scrapbook: Our African American Heritage Trip, was released in September 2005 by Chronicle Books.


The Kennedy Center Education Department

For more than 35 years, the Kennedy Center has provided arts and arts education experiences for students, teachers, families, and the general public in the Washington D.C. metropolitan community and throughout the nation. Currently the Kennedy Center Education Department's programs serve directly more than 11 million people. This impact has been accomplished through the initiatives, projects, and programs summarized below.

The initiatives, projects, and programs for Education at the Kennedy Center focuses around the statement that “Everyone can have high-quality, meaningful involvement with the performing arts by:

  1. Learning about the arts
  2. Creating art
  3. Engaging with artists
  4. Attending performances