The Bronx is writing a new chapter. The inaugural Bronx Book Festival will take over Fordham Plaza on Saturday, with readings, book signings, open mics and more that spotlight the local book community.
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Saraciea Fennell remembers the first time the seed was planted in her head of bringing a book festival to the Bronx. She was just starting out her career in publishing, attending the Brooklyn Book Festival as a publicist with Simon & Schuster. She’d never seen a literary event on that scale before. “I thought it was the most amazing thing ever,” she says. But it made her question: “Why isn’t something like this happening in the Bronx?”
“This is where I bought most of my books,” Saraciea J. Fennell said, pointing out to East Fordham Road in the Bronx from the Starbucks where we met in April. Among the check cashing locations, pawn shops and bodegas that lined the commercial thoroughfare when she was growing up, she said, were street vendors selling an assortment of books — from urban fiction to dictionaries.
On Saturday, the Bronx Book Festival, a literary event organized by Ms. Fennell, will take place in that same neighborhood, at Fordham Plaza. The all-day event will bring writers, illustrators and industry professionals to the community, as well as a vendor to sell books on-site.
Saraciea Fennell's journey with literature has been an integral part of her life since she was a child. During her time in foster care, the NYC native turned to books in order to get lost in an alternate universe while the world continued to press on around her.
Book publicist and South Bronx native Saraciea Fennell grew up without easy access to books. As a child, she assumed all of the authors in her school's tiny library were dead — and after the borough’s one remaining bookstore closed in 2016, many children in Fennell’s neighborhood found themselves facing a similar fate, with no exposure to real-life living authors or illustrators.
Saraciea Fennell, founder of the The Bronx Book Festival, aims to promote literacy and foster a love of reading amongst children, teens, and adults.
This festival will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the Bronx community through panels, workshops, and more with award-winning and bestselling authors, illustrators, and creators.
This festival will help build the reading culture in the Bronx and become the premier literary experience open to Bronx residents and the general public.
On March 26, Bronx native Saraciea Fennell launched a game-changing Kickstarter campaign to bring a Book Festival to an underserved community. Within a week, the project was fully funded, backed by excited readers, organizations like Well Read Black Girl, PoC in Pub, and PEN’s Lit Crawl, as well as authors like Daniel José Older and Libba Bray. Everyone was brought together by a dream, supported by one hashtag: #TheBronxIsReading.