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The Black Child Book Fair returns to Charlotte

Darryl Harvey (seated), founder of the Black Child Book Fair
Darryl Harvey
Darryl Harvey (seated), founder of the Black Child Book Fair

The Black Child Book Fair stops in Charlotte Saturday during its tour across the nation to expose readers to African American-themed content. The fair is designed to boost Black literacy and expose young readers to diverse characters for educational and emotional development.

Darryl Harvey wrote his first children’s book, “I Can Do Anything,” to increase children’s self-esteem, dignity, and confidence. After repeated interactions with Black parents who mentioned how difficult it was to find children’s books with people of color, he decided to host his first Black Child Book Fair in Chicago in 2019.

“From the moment I opened the doors to the moment I closed the doors, we were flooded with Black parents, Black teachers, Black social workers, and also, blended families,” Harvey said. “So, I said to myself, wow! This is something that people really want.”

Harvey’s initial book fair revealed that Chicago might not be the only city that could benefit from the Black Child Book Fair. So far, it has toured more than ten cities. The fair is in Charlotte for the second year in a row.

“Charlotte is one of the more popular cities across the U.S. that African Americans live in,” Harvey said. “So, we want to make sure that we are represented there and that your community there in Charlotte is aware and has the resources of the Black Child Book Fair.”

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center receives a significant sampling of books annually from large and mid-size publishers in the United States and a few Canadian publishers. Last year’s CCBC study of 3,427 children and young adults’ books revealed that around 13% featured Black and African characters, approximately 2% of the books were about indigenous people, and roughly 10% were about Asians.

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Layna Hong

Dr. Tasha Thompson-Gray has been an educator for 28 years and is currently an assistant principal at a school outside Chicago. She’s one of the African American authors expected to be at the event. Her book, “My People are Innovative,” explores African American inventors. Gray said that children need to be exposed to various levels of achievement.

“Representation matters. When you see that people that look like you have done some pretty remarkable and amazing things, it makes you feel valued; it makes you feel like you’re worth it. I can do this too,” Gray said. “It gives you a guide. When you don’t see people that look like you, sometimes you feel devalued; you feel less than.”

Dr. Jammie Noel Rainey is a licensed psychologist for public and private agencies in North Carolina. She specializes in mental health services for three to 10-year-olds. Rainey said books can have a positive impact on a child’s emotional well-being when the stories are relatable.

“Being able to read and to see, and to actually roleplay, certain situations can actually help them learn how to actually regulate their own emotions,” Rainey said. “It can also help them to learn certain skills which they can use when they are faced with challenging situations. It can also inspire kids and give kids hope.”

The Black Child Book Fair has partnered with Movement School Eastland to host the fair in east Charlotte. The event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Corrected: December 2, 2022 at 9:54 AM EST
A previous version of the infographic left off the number of books received about Indigenous peoples.
Elvis Menayese is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race and equity for WFAE. He previously was a member of the Queens University News Service. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.