This Saturday, Burst Into Books Presents the 2nd Annual W.O.W. Lit Fest

Burst Into Books is a nonprofit offering literacy and resources for children six months to eighteen years old and providing representation by diverse authors, books & storytellers. 

Burst Into Books is committed to helping the youth deepen their love of reading by integrating the arts, providing opportunities to engage with those connected to the literacy field, and creating a space to express themselves.

The 2nd Annual W.O.W. Literary Festival, hosted by Burst Into Books, is the ultimate celebration of books-to-be-written, books-to-be-read and designed with young readers and writers of all ages in mind. 

The festival will be held at the Dr. Conrad Worrill Track & Field Center at Gately Park in Chicago on Saturday, July 29, 2023, from 11 am – 5 pm. It will feature talents such as author Jason Reynolds, illustrator Jerry Craft, and moderator Dr. Eve L. Ewing, to name a few.

Burst Into Books’ primary mission is to rebuild local and national villages through advocacy, the arts, educational and family programming. Burst Into Books envisions a world transformed by cultural literacy through education.

Importance of Literacy In Our Neighborhoods

There is a false narrative that our Black and Brown children don’t want to read and write in our communities. We are the most creative and innovative people, and I think a lot of times, it is about creating a space for kids to see themselves in what they’re reading. My work is rooted in reading and writing as an everyday practice. It’s important to realize that our kids are avid readers and writers, just not in a traditional sense, stated Jurema Gorham, Executive Director and Founder of Burst Into Books.

Burst Into Books

This organization was born in 2018 from a conversation with people who were upset that everything they sought to do with their children was outside the radius of their neighborhood. 

They created a book club to be the change they wanted to see. After forming the book club, the focus became enlisting guest Black authors and illustrators to join the collective as they began the journey toward inspiring Black and brown children through literacy. 

I created this space for kids to come to and be inspired while having the access that they normally wouldn’t have with books and characters that reflect who they are. It was also important for me to create a space that was not a drop-off. We equip our parents with tools through workshops and conversations that allow them to learn and grow as well. We are a safe space, and we are a community for parents as well, said Gorham.

W.O.W. Literary Festival

This festival has proven to be a staple on the literary scene. W.O.W., an acronym for Words of Wonder, has that name thanks to one of Gorham’s mentors, Nora Brooks Blakely, daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Gwendolyn Brooks. 

The festival itself is an idea that has always been in the works, as Chicago is a city of festivals. Community is important. When it comes to Black literary children’s festivals, there were none on the far South Side.

Burst Into Books saw a need and filled it in the historic Pullman neighborhood. It’s a space that has been neglected for these types of cultural events for far too long. 

“I chose a space that would recognize and celebrate the diversity of Black culture, and that is Pullman,” Gorham said.

W.O.W. Lit Fest will highlight Black and brown artists and authors from local and surrounding cities that believe in the power of changing the narrative with our stories. 

These stories and workshops matter, so parents, pull up tomorrow with your little ones and enjoy a day of Black literary richness. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit this W.O.W. Lit Fest link.

For More Information

What: The 2nd Annual WORDS OF WONDER Literary Festival, hosted by Burst Into Books

When: Saturday, July 29, 2023, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Dr. Conrad Worrill Track & Field Center at Gately Park (10201 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, IL 60628)

What Else: This event is FREE

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