Mayor Demings standing at a podium, microphone in one hand, a children's book in the other. He reads to a crowd that is not pictured. In the background you see a powerpoint presentation titled African American Read In.

African American Read-In Returns to the Orange County Library System

Community & Services

Almost 30 years ago, the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English came together to create an event that would highlight the contributions of African-American authors in the literary world. This year, the Orange County Library System was proud to once again host the National African American Read-In, the nation’s first and oldest event dedicated to diversity in literature.

On Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, the African-American Read-In took place on the Downtown Orlando Library main stage. Special guest speakers shared their favorite works of literature including poems, stories, songs, spoken word and more. This year’s participants included community leaders in journalism, sports, government, education and philanthropy. The annual event celebrates and promotes diversity in literature by highlighting work created by African-American authors.

Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings attended the event with his granddaughter, reading “Grandma’s Tiny House” by JaNay Brown-Wood, in honor of his late mother and grandmother.

The ultimate goal of the Read-In is to promote diversity in literature. Authors of color, including African-American authors, are underrepresented in literature in general, and are particularly difficult to find in children’s literature. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a research library that focuses on the field of children’s and young adult literature, African-American and Latino authors wrote only 7 percent of new children’s books published in 2017. Of 3,700 children’s books reviewed by CCBC in 2017, only 340 of them featured African-American characters or content, and only 100 of them were written by black authors. That’s a significant diversity gap that the African-American Read-In program hopes to change.

For more information on the African-American Read-In and other events hosted by Orange County Library System, visit

Photo Caption: Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings reads “Grandma’s Tiny House” by JaNay Brown-Wood during Orange County Library System’s African American Read-In event at the Orlando Public Library in downtown Orlando.

Photo Credit: Orange County Library System

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