According to World Video’s Wiki, the Brooklyn Book Festival (BBF) “was launched in 2006 as a one-day event.” It’s now one of New York City’s “largest free literary festivals,” connecting readers to diverse authors, books, booksellers and publishers annually. It offers original, inclusive programming with new and well-established authors, sparking creative and educational conversations. The BBF has over twenty sponsors including The New York Review of Books and New York University.
It was especially accessible this year through its hybrid model. It ties into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Quality Education and Reduced Inequalities.
The BBF offered over 100 free or low cost literary events to all five boroughs over nine days. These include book signings, film, poetry, writing and arts and crafts workshops, readings, performances and more. There were virtual and in-person options from September 25 to October 3. October 1 (Children's Day) and October 2 (Festival Day with 300 authors) offered in-person literary panels and workshops.
The festival was a success despite heavy rain and wind which led to the cancellation of the outdoor literary marketplace and the relocation of events. The flexible festival team efficiently adjusted, still attracting an impressive amount of book lovers of all ages and backgrounds. Some blogged BBF events on social media or covered it for literary publications.
Despite the chilly fall weather, eager children and parents attended Children’s Day, some even sticking around for consecutive interactive, educational events. In the afternoon, in the Makers and Creators area, Boogie Boogie, Y’all’s CJ Esperanza performed a captivating dramatic reading of his book to an intimate audience. One young fan who reads the book every day with her mom knew all of the words. Esperanza then led a marker bubble letter drawing activity.
Successful Olympian series author and illustrator George O’Connor then attracted a particularly big and Olympian costumed crowd that lingered long into the next event. O’Connor shared his Olympian knowledge and had children colour Greek god masks.
Andrea Tsurumi, illustrator of Life Log then hosted Celebrate Yourself with Infographics!, a colourful hands-on tutorial about making personal infographics. Children enthusiastically made Personal Pie Panoramas measuring their favourite things.
Later, Mason Goes Mushrooming author Melany Kahn and Ellen Korbonski hosted the lively Discover the World of Fungi workshop. Children excitedly painted wooden fungi and made fungi models or created very own creative concoctions. They left colourful tables and smiling staff and volunteers behind.
Notable authors were also present on Festival Day such as Esmeralda Santiago, 2022 winner of the Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) award, presented yearly to “an author whose work best exemplifies or speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn.”
These authors, such as Santiago, incorporate themes that capture what makes Brooklyn unique while inspiring and educating readers. Santiago is the author of the critically acclaimed and film adapted memoir When I Was Puerto Rican, Almost a Woman, The Turkish Lover and the film adapted América’s Dream. She also wrote the national bestselling historical novel A Doll for Navidades and is a co-author of the Las Christmas and Las Mamis literary anthologies.
In the Brooklyn Borough Hall courtroom, Santiago was among the last authors to be featured and honoured, closing out Festival Day. She conversed with the 2015 BoBi honoree and award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming, After Tupac and Another Brooklyn. They were introduced by the Brooklyn Literary Council co-chair Camille Rankine before an impressive crowd.
The BBF community has persevered through various COVID-19 pandemic-related changes over the last few years including this one with the cancellation and relocation of events. Regardless of what the future holds, the BBF is here to stay.
Consider getting involved as a volunteer or staff member. You could contribute to making the festival and its educational opportunities more accessible to the Brooklyn community. To do so, consult the BBF website or contact them.