Woman Buying Books

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Meet Saraciea Fennell. She’s a book publicist, a South Bronx, N.Y. native, and this weekend, she’s putting on the first-ever book festival in the borough. “The Bronx is not burning,” she recently told Shondaland. But the Bronx is reading, which is why she’s marrying her Bronx Is Reading literacy program with the event to encourage Bronx schoolchildren to read more books.

Here are a few reasons to check it out this Saturday, May 19:

She Worked Damn Hard to Put It Together.

“There was a lot of resistance because the festival isn’t a nonprofit (currently pursuing that status now, though). I like challenges, so I decided to research other solutions, and crowd-funding to raise money for the festival was my best option. I knew that I couldn’t continue planning this event on my own, so I put a call out on Twitter for volunteers to help me get it done. Many people answered but only 12 rocked with me to actually plan it. I’m grateful for all the folks who reached out, it fueled me to keep going.”

Everyone from Elizabeth Acevedo to Daniel José Older Will Be There.

“Panelists will be talking about topics like writing as a queer author of color, what it’s like to publish a book, writing from the immigrant perspective, and more. There will also be a ton of readings and drawing happening in the picture book tent, with select reading[s] in Spanish.”

She’s Putting on for the Bronx.

“I want people to know that the Bronx was once home to many of their favorite writers and celebrities, including Edgar Allan Poe, James Baldwin, Mary Higgins Clark, Arlene Alda, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Big Pun, and so many countless others. I think people seem to like the people the borough has produced, but not the borough itself. I would love for people to venture into the Bronx and not just the South Bronx (which is being hit with gentrification right now), I want them to take an historical tour and visit Poe’s Cottage, visit the Bronx Writer’s Center, and the New York Public Library Center. The greenery in the Bronx is also amazing and Pelham Bay Park is so apt for reading and walking trails. I think that’s enough for now, because I sound like a spokesperson for the Bronx right now.”

Read more at Shondaland.