Hyde Park Children’s Book Fair returns to original location on 57th Street

Contributing Writer

Over 30 ago, a group of like-minded Hyde Parkers came together to safeguard the legacy of the neighborhood’s independent bookstores by showcasing the community’s love of literature with the creation of the 57th Street Children’s Book Fair, a renowned free festival that celebrates readers of all ages.

This year, Hyde Park’s annual Children’s Book Fair is making its return to 57th Street on Sunday, Sept. 16. Dozens of local booksellers and community organizations are preparing for the back-to-school celebration that has been a part of the neighborhood’s tradition to encourage young readers to enter the world of literature through a hands-on exploration of the booksellers in the area.

The event, to be held between Woodlawn and Kimbark avenues, will kick-off with a parade led by Mother Goose at 11a.m., and will end at 5p.m.

“We’re lucky that Hyde Park is a neighborhood that has a variety of local bookstores that fulfill such a marvelous job of servicing both children and adults,” said Rebecca Janowitz, founder of the 57th Street Children’s Book Fair. “The Chicago Book Fair Board is thrilled to announce that we’ll be celebrating the Fair at 57th Street again, thanks to the collaboration of Ray Elementary and many other organizations.”

The Children’s Book Fair was moved to Nichols Park, 1355 E. 53rd St., about seven years ago. Janowitz said the reason behind the move was because they could no longer use Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., as a rain location. Last year, the Fair was cancelled for the first time as the Board organized efforts to move the festivities back to their original location.

“This year, Ray Elementary has agreed to service us as our rain location once again and we’re very grateful. Though we hope we have beautiful weather,” said Janowitz. “The community can expect a wide-array of performances throughout the day, with the participation of neighborhood favorites like the Hyde Park School of Ballet.”

The fair will have two stages of entertainment featuring youth dance and music groups including Mayfair Dance Academy, live music from local musicians, and the award-winning jazz ensemble from Kenwood Academy High School.

Throughout the day, participants will get the opportunity to meet authors, create projects, find books to take home, and learn about Chicago non-profits geared toward children and families. Vendors include Autumn Leaves Books, Barefoot Books, Chicago Rare Books, First Aid Comics, Powell Books and 57th Street Books, to name a few.

One of the featured children’s books during the Children’s Book Fair will be “Courage,” by Chicago author Barbara Binns. The book is centered around a 13-year-old that discovers a passion for an unusual sport and tells the story of many of the issues facing urban youth.

“What drew us to having ‘Courage’ as one of our featured books was its powerful message to youth about community and family,” said Janowitz. “The book uses Chicago as a backdrop and includes Hyde Park as well. We thought it was very relatable for our readers.”

The Children’s Book Fair also has a large concentration of Museum shops that offer visitors a glimpse of famous exhibits, and children a unique chance to create arts and crafts to take home as souvenirs. Cultural institutions that have participated throughout the years include the Smart Museum, the Hyde Park Art Center and the Oriental Institute.

“We look forward to returning to 57th Street and joining all of the great local bookstores, children and families that make up our community for our 31st year celebrating this event,” said Janowitz.

Entertainment schedule for the 2018 Children’s Book Fair:

Large Stage
12:30 – Hyde Park School of Dance
1:30 – Black Girls Jump
1:45– Celito Lindo Family Folk Music
2:30 – Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts
3:00 – The Banks Performance Project
3:30 – Future Hits band

Storyteller/Author Stage
12:30 – Chris Ferrie (science demonstration)
1:00 – James Gordon
2:00 – Samaiyah Muhammad-Wright
2:45 – Lora Hyler
3:00 – Christina Matula-Hakli – paper lantern making

Author Signings – free copies while supplies last
11:00 – Keir Graff – The Phantom Tower
1:00 – Chris Ferrie – Scientist, Scientist, What do you See?
2:00 – Barbara Binns – Courage
3:30 – Christina Matula-Hakli – The Shadow in the Moon

Free Face Painting by LWA Family
DJ – Electric Blue Entertainment
Magic Card Tournament (sponsored by First Aid Comics)

For general information for sponsorship, entertainers, vendors, non-profits and volunteers contact Tara Baldridge at 57bookfair@gmail.com .