On Saturday, October 1, the Brooklyn Book Festival held its second in-person Children’s Day since the pandemic. The day was full of child-friendly activities, including panels featuring authors for all age ranges, an all-day read-aloud stage, and children’s publishers and booksellers selling books at booths. Author and illustrator appearances included Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Kyle Lukoff, Emma Otheguy, Dan Santat, Stephen Savage, Raúl the Third, and more.
Children’s publishers were excited to return to the festival and interact with readers and parents again after interruption from the pandemic. However, the inclement weather put a slight damper on the festivities. The festival, which was planned for rain or shine, shifted all panels on the Center Stage to the Brooklyn Heights Library for better conditions.
For vendors, the weather offered a new challenge, with foot traffic briefly slowing down, and some vendors even packing up for the day, unprepared for the difficult weather.
“We’ve just been determined!” said Angus Yuen-Killick, publisher of Red Comet Press, who waited out the storm. “Come hell or high water we were going to stay. You don’t get a second chance. You have to wait until next year.”
But rain wasn’t enough to stop attendees from continuing with the fair. After the hour-long shower, it was back to literary fun for all, with attendance at the outdoor events and vendors picking back up.
“Once the rain cleared out, it’s been just as busy as the festival was [back] in 2018,” said Zoe Kelsey, marketing associate of House of Anansi Press. “Lots of kids. Lots of cute dogs. Everybody’s back. Everybody's out!”
At the heart of the festival’s activities was the communal aspect with fellow book lovers. Publishers in attendance also gained a better understanding of young readers’ interests, and how their guardians are shopping for books.
“It's nice to connect with people again, in person,” said House of Anansi sales associate Katherine Kakoutis said. “And it’s been cool to see what people gravitate towards on the table, which is something we don’t really get to see much in the office.”
Alex Ransom, assistant marketing manager at New York Review Books, similarly said, “You sort of have an idea of who will buy books and the audience for them. But then it can be completely different when you're actually meeting the kids and the parents in person, and actually figuring out how to market the books to them in real life.”