Lead Story West Edition

Leading authors to highlight Leimert Park book fair Aug. 19

CRENSHAW — Authors Pamela Samuels Young, Tananarive Due, Gary Phillips, and Steve Barnes are among the literary figures expected to appear at the 11th edition of the Leimert Park Village Book Fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 19 on the outdoor promenade of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The book fair is designed to dispel the myth that African Americans do not read, its founder Cynthia Exum said. Each year, thousands of readers and curious minds with a thirst for knowledge flock to the fair to participate in a celebration of education and literacy.

The mission of the family-oriented event is to promote, encourage and advocate literacy, education and the love of reading throughout the greater Los Angeles area. The fair attracts more than 200 authors, poets, spoken word artists, storytellers, performers and literary/educational exhibitor participants.

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

African American heroes of “The Great Outdoors” like Matthew Henson, Biddy Mason, Stagecoach Mary Fields, Bill Pickett and several others will be spotlighted at the annual event for their work and contributions.

An overhead view of last year’s Leimert Park Village Book Fair shows the many booths that fill the promenade area of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Actress and author Kim Coles is the ambassador for this year’s fair. (File photo)

The 2017 book fair ambassador is actress, comedienne, author and speaker Kim Coles. Coles’ latest book, “Open Your G.I.F.T.S.: 22 Lessons on Finding and Embracing Your Personal Power,” will be available for sale at the fair. The book is an anthology of 22 women sharing their unique journeys and their life lessons.

Actor, director and cowboy Glynn Turman will receive the Legacy Award for his work in television, film, and stage. Turman has attended the fair in the past and says what he enjoys the most is that “it creates an atmosphere that makes it clear to the community that reading books and getting an education is a cool thing and a good thing to do.”

Numerous stages are set up around the outdoor promenade of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza including a Main Stage, Children’s Stage/Reading Corner, Poet’s Stage, Cook’s Pavilion and Travel and Wellness Stage.

On the Main Stage, book fair attendees can expect to see Coles, Turman, along with other celebrities, speakers and musical performers.

The Children’s Stage/ Reading Corner will feature children’s village ambassadors, Nay Nay Kirby, Michael Pronda and comedienne Leroya Sanford, read-a-louds, musical performances and activities such as face painting, arts and crafts and more.

A new addition to the book fair is the Travel and Wellness Stage, which will feature discussions on physical and mental health, nutrition information, trip planning insight from travel consultants and tips on camping and hiking from outdoor experts.

Interactive activities include, storytelling, book give-a-ways, hands-on-projects, product sampling and more.

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

Book fair participants can also expect writing workshops, panel discussions, a community forum, theater performances, storytelling, readings, author meet and greets, spoken word performances, poetry recitals and live music.

The Wave is co-hosting the 2 p.m. panel discussion “You – The Future of Publishing.”

The Leimert Park Village Book Fair was founded in 2007 by Exum as a tribute to her late grandmother and late sister.

“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.

“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.”