Up & Coming Weekly

February 28, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 17 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MARCH 1 - 7, 2023 UCW 17 ASHLEY SHIRLEY, Staff Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200 As part of its ongoing Black Culture Experience, e Arts Council of Fayetteville and its subsidiary, We Are e Arts, will host this year's BlackLIT Book Fair on March 18 at the Volta Space in downtown Fayetteville. Now in its second year, the BlackLIT Book Fair "continues to be an intentional effort to motivate, highlight, reaffirm, and empower cultures and the younger generation by making literacy relatable and relevant in communities of color." Working to close the sig- nificant reading gap pres- ent within the black community, the BlackLIT Book Fair works to showcase and uplift the lived ex- periences of African Americans as expressed through fiction, self-help, romance, empowerment, poetry, children's books, and a variety of other genres. Data pulled from the National Assessment of Educational Prog- ress suggests an initiative like this couldn't be more timely. In 2019, the Nation's Report Card showed that only around 15% of Black 8th graders were at or above a proficient reading level. e numbers don't look much better after high school, as around 23% of Black adults are considered to be low literacy according to a 2019 report from the National Cen- ter for Education Statistics. Boosting literary engagement is of crucial importance within the Black community and critical to its long- term success. Literacy improves mental health, builds life-long learning and critical thinking skills, creates jobs, and is a powerful tool against poverty. e BlackLit Book Fair will host a number of activities, reading, pan- els and presentations for readers and writers of all ages throughout the day. e Children's Read-Aloud "inspires children and their par- ents to learn, grow and explore the world through the pages of a book," shared Christy McNeil, Director of Marketing for the Arts Council of Fayetteville. Six African American storytell- ers are slated to appear during this time and offer dynamic readings designed to grow the imaginations of their audience while fostering a love of reading and an expanded view of the world. As an added incentive, all chil- dren in attendance will receive a BlackLit Voucher which can be re- deemed for one free children's book of their choosing at participating vendors as long as supplies last. For poetry enthusiasts, e Liter- ary Cafe: Poetry By e Hour will create an opportunity for authors and aficionados to engage in conversation over refreshments as "poetic expressionists read excerpts from their books." And for those writers of color, both emerging and established, the BlackLIT Book Fair will offer a Professional Writers Panel to offer advice and guidance around the ins and outs of the publishing world. Topics include "distribution, ac- cess to funding and small business loans, and other aspects of artist development," according to the event's website. e BlackLIt Book Fair is an op- portunity to support Black authors, discover new perspectives, and bolster the audacious notion that stories of color are stories worth reading and the world is better served by sharing them. e BlackLit Book Fair is free to attend and open to the public. e Volta Space is located behind 116 Person St. in downtown Fayetteville. For more information about the BlackLit Book Fair, visit https:// www.wearethearts.com/blackcul- ture. BlackLIT Book Fair aims to close reading gap by ASHLEY SHIRLEY EVENT

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