When author Darryl Harvey began writing children’s books in 2008, he wanted to spread a positive and affirming message for black kids.
“It is extremely important that children see positive images that reflect themselves,” he said, adding that it improves self-esteem, encourages kids to study and helps them set goals for what they want to be when they grow up.
From the get-go, Harvey, a West Side native, wanted to do something to support fellow African-American children’s book authors. In 2009, he founded the Chicago Black Authors Network. The network held several book fairs before organizing its own focused specifically on children’s authors in February 2019.
This weekend, the Black Child Book Fair is coming back to a larger venue. It will be held on Feb. 8 at East Garfield Park’s Jensen Scholastic Academy, 3030 W. Harrison St. The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Harvey said that visitors will have a chance to meet authors and buy books, as well as take part in various activities, such as panel discussions, face-painting for kids and book giveaways.
Harvey works as a program manager at Youth Guidance, a Loop-based nonprofit that, provides a variety of support programs for Chicago young people, including afterschool programs. Harvey said that he also founded the Black Child Book Fair, because he was concerned about how little black history is taught in public schools.
“The first fair was exceptionally well-received,” he said. “There were parents and teachers and social workers and children in attendance. The reception was incredible and the people seemed to be really hungry for such an event.”
The first Black Child Book Fair was held at 1900 W. Fulton St. Originally, Harvey planned to hold this year’s book fair at the same space, but because of the rising interest, he decided to move it to a larger venue.
“This year, we’ll be at the elementary school, and it will be bigger and there are more authors,” he said. “We expect a very, very good time. There will be a lot of educational books for children of all ages.”
Harvey said he’s taking the event to other Midwestern cities. He organized a book fair in St. Louis on Feb. 1, and an Indianapolis book fair is scheduled for Feb. 15. As the book fair expands to other city, Harvey said, there will always be one on the West Side.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “This book fair will go nationwide in 2021.”
For more info on the Black Child Book Fair, visit: harveywritersgroup.com/.