Ashley Bryan Submitted photo

LEWISTON — LA Arts, the Lewiston Public Library, and the Lewiston Schools’ 21st Century program invite families to the Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival, scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, in Kennedy Park at 120 Park St.

This free event provides an opportunity for young readers of color to see themselves reflected in literature created with them in mind, according to a news release from the LA Arts.

Featured activities include:

• Lunch catered by Mogadishu Store at noon;

• ArtVan drop-in poetry and collage-making inspired by Ashley Bryan’s artwork, noon-3 p.m.;

• Community mural-making inspired by Bryan’s artwork, noon-3 p.m.;


• Read-alouds by Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline, Mana Abdi, Malik Hall, and other community leaders from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Kennedy Park gazebo; and

• Student drumming workshop with Mohammed Hassan at 2:30 p.m.

Local partners Maine Community Integration, Djibouti American Community Empowerment Project, and Lewiston Auburn Youth & Family Enrichment Services will also be at Kennedy Park from noon to 3 p.m. to host their annual back-to-school backpack and school supplies giveaway event.

Lewiston-Auburn partnering organizations are hosting these local events as part of Indigo Arts Alliance’s third annual Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival, celebrating Black children’s books and their creators from across the African Diaspora. This year’s festival, honoring the legacy of Black children’s book creator and artist Bryan, will feature a 4,500 book giveaway, the production of acclaimed media, and live events in Portland, Lewiston and Rockland.

The book festival was founded in 2020 by Indigo Arts Alliance in partnership with I’m Your Neighbor Books and Diverse BookFinder and is produced with the 2022 partners: The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Ridah Ridah, the Farnsworth Museum, LA Arts, the Lewiston Public Library, and Lewiston Schools 21st Century program.

This year’s festival holds special significance as Bryan, known for his picture book Beautiful Blackbird, died in February. Throughout his career, Bryan’s passion for amplifying the legacy of African and African American knew no bounds, according to LA Arts. It was that same passion that inspired Indigo Arts Alliance to create the Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival, honoring his legacy of uplifting Black roots, identity and resiliency.


The festival aims to build the home libraries of Black children, filling those homes with books that represent their lives and experiences. In the past two years, the festival distributed over 4,000 books. This year’s festival will provide and facilitate the distribution of over 4,500 books.

The rain location is Callahan Hall, Lewiston Public Library, 200 Lisbon St.

For more information, contact Gerald Walsh at LA Arts at or Sara Turner, children’s librarian at Lewiston Public Library at 207-513-3004 or



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