Cal State LA’s College of Ethnic Studies is presenting a multicultural children’s book fair this month. “I Read to See Me: A Celebration of Multicultural Children’s Books” will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cal State LA in the courtyard of King Hall.
The event is free and open to the public.
“When we foster a child’s love of reading, we’re fostering that child’s ability to thrive in their studies, to discover who they are and to later realize their potential as an adult,” said Julianne Malveaux, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies and a nationally renowned educator and economist. “This is why this event is so important and needed.”
The college is co-hosting the event with the African American Children’s Book Project, a national literacy organization that promotes and preserves books by and about Black Americans. The organization promotes reading as a part of a healthy lifestyle and emphasizes how books empower, enrich and enlighten children’s lives.
The book fair will include panels that feature award-winning authors and illustrators who will discuss their literary journey and the importance of having diverse books in schools and home libraries. A series of panels featuring educators and publishing professionals will focus on the importance of diverse books, what they are, and how to find them. A highlight of the afternoon will be the Cal State LA Reading Circle, with dynamic presenters who will deliver presentations about and read from their books.
Book fair attendees will be able to take part in book signings, visit with exhibitors and participate in promotional giveaways. The first 200 youth attendees will receive a free copy of a book by one of the featured authors or illustrators. The event will also offer a wide selection of affordable diverse books for purchase.
The fun-filled afternoon is a chance to connect with dynamic literary creators and an opportunity to gain knowledge about the world of children’s publishing.
Award-winning author Andrea J. Loney will debut her new book, Curve & Flow: The Elegant Vision of L.A. Architect Paul R. Williams, illustrated by Keith Mallett. The book celebrates trailblazing Black architect Paul R. Williams, who defied the odds and broke down racial barriers in his field to become a world-renowned architect.
“My work is driven by the belief that all children deserve to see themselves honestly and lovingly depicted in the pages of a book,” Loney said. “I also believe that all kids should get the opportunity to explore the world in all its richness and diversity through books.”
Monica Mancillas, author, musician and self-described unapologetic dreamer, will also debut her new book at the event. A first-generation immigrant, her own story closely mirrors that of her new picture book, Mariana and Her Familia, a heartwarming tale of a young girl on her first trip to Mexico, who learns there is no language barrier when it comes to love.
“In a climate in which books featuring marginalized voices are being banned, we must fight harder than ever for children to see themselves represented in stories,” Mancillas said.
Celebrated illustrator and author Benson Shum, who wrote the picture book, Anzu the Great Kaiju, will also be featured at the book fair.
“Diverse books are so important because to be seen and heard is what everyone needs,” Shum said. “To read stories of all cultures makes for a better world for everyone.” Shum is also a Disney animator and has worked on films such as Encanto, Moana, Raya and the Last Dragon, Frozen, and Frozen 2.
Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, founder of the African American Children’s Book Project and a consultant for the event, noted the importance of multicultural book events.
“Studies show that children who engage in reading activities outside of their normal school coursework do better in school,” Lloyd-Sgambati said. “It is also essential that you give children of all ages access and choice. That reluctant reader may not have been given a book of their interest. Finding out what a child likes to read and giving them books that reflect their image plays an important role in building lifelong readers.”
The College of Ethnic Studies is the newest college at Cal State LA and one of only two colleges of Ethnic Studies in the state. The college centers the histories, traditions, cultures, experiences, struggles and accomplishments of diasporic communities of color, making connections between the local and transnational.
“Storytelling is one of our oldest forms of artistic expression, and books hold our stories,” said Malveaux, who is a syndicated columnist and author. “Books can help build cultural respect and understanding—at a time when our nation needs both.”