Video: Author, Illustrator Vashti Harrison Reading and Illustration

Author/Illustrator/filmmaker Vashti Harrison, best-known for her children's books Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History and Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World, participated in my city's annual Book Festival. Parents and educators brought their little one's to hear Vashti read from both of her books and inspire young creative minds with an illustration demonstration.

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Little Dreamers: Visionary Women around the World, a children's book by Vashti Harrison, details true stories of 40 women creators while Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History chronicles the accomplishments of 40 Black women who's contributions to society changed the world and shaped history.

During her visit to Harrisburg, much like her books, Vashti's message to the young audience, especially to the little black girls, was even if you don't know quite yet what you want to be "when you grow up," you can dream boldly and succeed at anything.

Audience members where encouraged to follow along as Vashti read selections from her books. Copies were available for purchase.

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Vashti first read to the children about Augusta Savage, an educator and sculptor who grew up poor but found prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. Augusta Savage fought tirelessly against inequality, reflecting the beauty of blackness in her sculptures. She was also passionate about education and teaching art to children, having founded the Savage School of Arts . Savage became the first African American woman elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. The Harp was Savage's largest work and her last major commission.

She also told the audience the story of Ada Lovelace, describing the incredible connection between art and science. Ada Lovelace designed a formula for programming an analytical engine to calculate a mathematical sequence of numbers known as the Bernoulli numbers. Because of this, Ada Lovelace became known as the first computer programmer. Her story is one of many in Vashti Harrisons, Little Dreamers.

Immediately after the reading, Vashti demonstrated her drawing technique, using simple shapes to create characters from her books. One little dreamer in attendance was given Vashti's drawing to take home.

Vashti Harrison was awarded the NAACP Image Award for outstanding literary work for children for her first book, Little Leaders which is also a New York Times bestseller. She has appeared on "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah talking about her books and Black History Icons. Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History is expected to be released on November 19th.

To purchase any the many works of Vashti Harrison, please click here.


Hear directly from Vashti Harrison and watch her drawing demonstration by clicking the video below.

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