ROCKLAND — Join the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and Farnsworth Art Museum for an afternoon read aloud and art activities at the 2022 Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival Midcoast Saturday, Sept. 17. Artist Veronica Perez will read a selection of books in the CMCA courtyard, 21 Winter St., followed by art making workshops in the ArtLab and Gamble Education Center. Galleries will be open at the Farnsworth Art Museum, 16 Museum St., including the solo exhibit “Ashley Bryan: Beauty in Return.” Artists of all ages are encouraged to attend this free event. Founded by Indigo Arts Alliance to celebrate Black children’s books and their creators from across the African Diaspora, this year’s festival includes eight community partners holding events in three Maine cities over the weekend of Sept. 17 and 18.

This year’s festival, honoring the legacy of Black children’s book creator and artist Ashley Bryan, features a 4,500 book giveaway, the production of acclaimed media, and live events in Portland, Lewiston and Rockland. Each featured book and event will provide an opportunity for young readers of color to see themselves reflected in literature created with them in mind and to interact with the authors and illustrators as role models and storytellers.

The local schedule of events for Saturday, Sept. 17, is as follows: 1 to 2 p.m., Veronica Perez read aloud at CMCA courtyard; 2 to 3 p.m., workshops in the CMCA ArtLab and Gamble Learning Center; and 3 to 5 p.m., “Ashley Bryan: Beauty in Return” exhibit on view at Farnsworth Art Museum.

This year’s festival holds special significance as Ashley Bryan, best known for his picture book “Beautiful Blackbird,” passed away in February of this year. Throughout his career, Bryan’s passion for amplifying the legacy of African and African American knew no bounds. 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 Beautiful Blackbird Children’s 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 and the Lewiston Public Library.

This year’s Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival builds on the tremendous success of previous two festivals, which despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, successfully transitioned from a live festival to a virtual event throughout the summer of 2020 and a hybrid event in 2021. To this date, the festival has reached more than 200,000 audience members spanning over 44 countries.