Kids lit: Book fair for woke Brooklyn babies

Baby book fair: Crown Heights poet and teacher Mahogany Browne will reading from her picture book “Woke Baby” during Saturday’s book fair for socially conscious kids.
Center for Fiction

It’s a book fair of fair books!

An enlightened book festival happening this weekend in Fort Greene will help privilege-aware parents find the right books to help raise their infants into social justice toddlers. The “Woke Baby Book Fair,” at the Center for Fiction on Aug. 3, was named as both a joke about babies’ rocky sleep schedules and a comment on young people’s capacity for social change, said the creator of the event.

“Babies are very much aware,” said Mahogany L. Browne, a Crown Heights poet, educator, and activist. “I chose the title to think about what it means to raise a global citizen.”

The fair will showcase books for both kids and young adults that deal with social justice issues, and several authors — including Jason Reynolds, whose acclaimed novel “All American Boys” deals with police brutality, and fantasy writer Dhonielle Clayton, also the founder of the group We Need Diverse Books — will read from their work at the fest. The event will also feature a wide variety of activities, including arts and crafts, singing, dancing, bookmark-making, and storytime sessions, all designed to bring the books to life and to accommodate children’s different learning styles, said Browne.

“Not all kids receive art in the same way,” she said.

At the event, Browne will also read from her poem and picture book “Woke Baby,” alongside a breakdancer who will interpret and respond to the text. The poem begins: “Woke baby, up before the sun smiles, eyes open. Look at your fists, fingers curled into a panther’s paw, points up up up reaching for justice.”

The format of the event was inspired the Scholastic book fairs that Browne attended in elementary school, where she would buy all the newest hardcovers, magazines, and school supplies she could. Browne hoped to recreate that experience at the first ever “Woke Baby Book Fair,” which she hosted in June in Harlem. That event’s success prompted Browne to launch the upcoming celebration in Fort Greene.

Browne said that hosting a book fair that highlights literature about children of color is important to her, as a woman of color and as a teacher of diverse kids for the last 15 years.

“I know what it’s like to look for quality books with diverse characters,” she said. “With the book fair, I wanted to bring some flair to that experience.

“Woke Baby Book Fair” at the Center for Fiction (15 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, www.centerforfiction.org). Aug. 3; 10:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Free.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306.

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