Johanne Civil set out to change the perception that Queens lacked a flourishing literary scene with the first-ever Queens Book Festival this year, and she will continue the tradition in 2017.
About 3,000 people showed up to Kaufman Astoria Studios on Aug. 7 to interact with authors, attend workshops and purchase books. The successful festival caught the attention of Long Island City business owner Frank Raffaele and next year, LIC LANDING by COFEED will be the new home of the Queens Book Festival. The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy (HPPC) will co-host the event.
In 2017, authors and book readers will convene on the Long Island City waterfront on May 27 and 28 for the free event. The first day of the festival will be dedicated to encouraging children to read. The Children’s Day portion of the festival will include a STEAM stage where a virtual reality program will “marry technology into literacy.”
“Kids are moving in technology faster than the rest of us and the goal is to get them to read, [whether it’s to] pick up a magazine or an iPad,” Civil said.
She added that a lot of schools still lack after-school programming and additional resources for students when it comes to literacy, and the Queens Book Festival looks to bridge the gap.
“Queens has a great literary tradition and it will be very rewarding that so many people will be exposed to wonderful authors at the beautiful LIC Waterfront,” said Rob Basch, president of HPPC. “I am also very pleased about the outreach they will have to the younger readers in our community and the festival’s support for independent bookstores.”
The second day of the festival will include workshops, author talks, vendors and more. Organizers will release a list of participating authors in two to three months and early registration for vendors started on Oct. 17.
Though organizers had to change venues last minute and ran into money troubles later in the planning process for the first festival, Civil hopes that more local businesses become sponsors. She also aims to show people that “you don’t have to go out of Queens to enjoy the literary community.”
“There was a bit of a stigma back several years where the comments were made that Brooklyn has the writers and Queens has the readers,” Civil said. “With the shift of real estate in Brooklyn and also with the vibrant community that has been here that hasn’t been the case running on 10 years.”
If you have any questions about exhibiting at the festival, volunteering or becoming a participating author you can reach organizers at email@example.com or 917-745-3507.