Lead Story West Edition

Great Outdoors is theme of Leimert Park book fair

LEIMERT PARK — The 11th version of the Leimert Park Village Book Fair will take place Aug. 19 in the promenade of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

This year’s theme is “The Great Outdoors,” highlighting the cultural and healthy benefits of travel for the mind, body and soul.

The book fair was founded by Cynthia Exum in 2006 with the goal of promoting education and literacy in South Los Angeles.

“Our event is not just a book fair in the literary sense of the word, but it’s an experience, a cultural experience where we offer the opportunity to learn and become educated on the cultural and literary contributions of our community,” Exum said.

Each year, thousands of African Americans and other racial groups flock to the fair to meet and greet their favorite authors and to be introduced to new authors.

Numerous stages are set up around the mall area including a Main Stage, Children’s Village Reading Corner, Poet’s Stage, Cook’s Pavilion and a Health and Wellness Stage. The Children’s Village/Reading Corner is a personal favorite of Exum’s.

“The kids are our future and it’s important that we inspire them at an early age to read and be enlightened,” she said.

Cynthia Exum

The fair attracts more than 200 authors, poets, spoken word artists, storytellers, performers and literary/educational exhibitor participants. In previous years, poet Nikki Giovani and filmmaker Ava DuVernay have graced the main stage. This year’s book fair ambassador is actress, comedienne, author and speaker Kim Coles. Actor and cowboy Glynn Turman is the Legacy Award nominee.

Among the authors scheduled to appear this year are Pamela Samuels Young, Tananarive Due, Gary Phillips, Jodi Baker and many more. Several authors who are not native Angelenos are expected to join this year’s festivities.

With “The Great Outdoors Theme,” those attending can expect to see cowboys, cowgirls and horses walking throughout the venue, a rock climbing wall, and other sites and activities celebrating the outdoors.

In 11 years, the family–oriented event has grown from its location at the Vision Theatre parking structure on 43rd Street and Degnan Boulevard to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, just down the street from the historic Leimert Park district, respected by many as the center of the African American arts scene in Los Angeles.

“For the past decade, we’ve been able to bring in some of the great literary minds of our time, providing an opportunity for burgeoning writers and authors to further build their brand and following,” Exum said.

Exum is the principal consultant and founder of Exum & Associates, a boutique communications, public relations and event planning agency.

She credits the creation of the summer literary event as a tribute to her late grandmother and late sister. Exum’s grandmother was an avid reader who read the Bible daily and kept stacks of National Geographic magazines throughout her home.

What began as a tribute to her family has now grown into an event that continues to impact generations of readers and writers.

The fair will from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com.