Children's Book Festival Offers Family Fun and Inspiration

NEW YORK - Film producer Spike Lee and singer Roberta Flack are among the celebrities expected tomorrow (4/12) at the fifth annual African-American Children's Book Festival at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

The one-day event, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., features storytellers, authors and illustrators who will sign their books and read to youngsters and their families.

Produced by Kids Cultural Books, the festival is the first in a series of four African-American children's book festivals to be held this year throughout the Northeast. Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is providing a $95,000 grant to fund the festivals as part of the company's efforts to improve literacy levels in America.

"The authors and entertainers will bring dozens of books to life for youngsters to show them the joy of reading," said Jerri DeVard, Verizon's senior vice president - Brand Management and Marketing Communications. "Verizon is delighted to have the opportunity to sponsor these festivals. They are designed to be a day to bring families together for fun and provide the fulfilling inspiration that comes from reading a good book."

Toni Trent Parker, president of Kids Cultural Books, said, "Thanks to Verizon's generosity, this book festival will enhance our efforts to expose more children, parents and educators to these wonderful African-American children's books. I couldn't imagine a more enthusiastic literacy partner than Verizon."

More than 400 book titles will be available for sale, with books for all ages -- from toddlers to teens. Free posters and bookmarks will be distributed.

Spike Lee and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, will read from their new book for toddlers, "Please, Baby, Please." Roberta Flack will read "When Marian Sang," (Marian Anderson) by Pam Munoz Ryan, and "Ella Fitzgerald," by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Soprano Alicia Hall will sing to accompany Flack's readings.

George "Mo Leggs" Patterson III from the Broadway hit "Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk" will perform "Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles, Think of That!" by Leo and Diane Dillon. Author Gavin Curtis will read from his book, "The Bat Boy and His Violin," and David Burnett, an instructor at the Harlem School of the Arts, will play musical interludes.

    Authors and illustrators attending the book festival include:

    Tonya Bolden - "Tell All the Children Our Story"

    Colin Bootman - "In My Momma's Kitchen"

    Bryan Collier- "Martin's Big Words"

    Gavin Curtis - "Bat Boy and His Violin"

    Joyce Hansen- "Which Way Freedom"

    Alicia Henderson - "Call Me Black, Call Me Beautiful"

    Patricia Hinds - "My Best Friend"

    Wade & Cheryl Hudson - "Afro-Bets ABC"

    E. B. Lewis - "Talkin' About Bessie"

    Cedric Lucas - "What's in Aunt Mary's Room"

    Jerdine Nolen - "Raising Dragons"

    Charisse Richardson - "The Real Slam Dunk"

    Nicole Tadgell - "Fatuma's New Cloth"

    Wanda Thomas - "Handsome Me"

    Eric Velasquez - "Piano Man"

    Lynette Velasco - "Zinzy"

Through its signature program, Verizon Reads, and the Verizon Literacy Network, Verizon works to increase community and corporate awareness, raise funds, encourage collaboration among literacy providers, and engage employees in supporting literacy programs. For more information visit www.verizonreads.net or call 1-877-483-READ

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 135.8 million access line equivalents and 32.5 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and 229,500 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 30 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.


Media contacts:

Daniel Díaz Zapata, Verizon, 212-395-7602

Bob Bishop, Verizon, 202-515-2516

Toni Trent Parker, Kids Cultural Books
, 203-359-6925