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The Annual Words of Wonder Literary Festival is a celebration of books-to-be-written and books-to-be-read.

Come and join us each year for a literary festival on the South Side of Chicago designed with young readers and writers of all ages in mind!

We will have interactive literacy and art programming, opportunities for youth and families to connect with community resources, animated storytelling by Black authors and illustrators, a diverse group of book vendors and installations for all ages, story-based dance, interactive writing workshops, Indigenous and African styled drumming, a wide range of live music, healthy food choices and snacks, giveaways and much more!!

2nd Annual W.O.W Lit Fest


We had a total attendance of 825 people at this year's festival.

We had over 90 vendors in attendance to make this event a success.

We had both local and national authors who were a part of the event.

We had 14 sponsors for the festival.

Hundreds of books were sold, given and blessed to all attendees.

We extend our deepest thanks to each and every one of you who graced us with your presence during the 2nd Annual Words of Wonder Literary Festival.  Whether you were a distinguished author, an avid reader, an aspiring writer, or a dedicated volunteer, your enthusiasm and shared passion for literature breathed life into every panel discussion, every reading, and every creative workshop. Your presence truly made this event a resounding success.

We would also like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our sponsors, partners, and collaborators who generously contributed to the festival's success. Your support enabled us to bring together a diverse array of voices and perspectives, fostering an atmosphere of literary exploration and intellectual growth.

What Attendees Had to Say About The Festival

I was happy to attend the WOW Literary Festival because I know I just witnessed something special! I'm already looking forward to next year and I know it will grow exponentially because people will want to go and experience this for themselves, their families, and their organizations!

- Jessica Smith

The inaugural WOW Lit Fest 2022 was a gathering of some of the most intentional organizations in youth education, advocacy and community advancement. It was an honor to be invited to be in that room and serve youth alongside everyone.

- Cydney Edwards

The W.O.W. Literary Festival and its venue was steeped in Black excellence along with meaningful exchanges between literary organizations from across our city. Our Southside communities need these kind of events as staples in our community. Keep it up and see you next year!

- Jami Rhue

I absolutely loved everything about the event and so happy to be a part of it. I was amazed at the amount of resources, performers and services that were provided. I also love that this was on the south side with highlights from Black Excellence in every spectrum. Thank you for having us and would love to work together again in the future.

- Bria Jackson

This Literary Festival made books come alive for children. The excitement was palpable. Children and families had a lovely time meeting authors and other reading enthusiasts.

- Attendee

Burst into Books

is very inspiring!

- Camesia Perry

Great family event!

First time vendor but I have it already marked on my calendar

for next year.

- Attendee

This festival is a true celebration of the importance of books. A place for people of all ages who appreciate that making great literature accessible for young people can change the world.

- Emily M. Hooper Lansana

The WOW Literary Festival was a great experience, both as a vendor and as a participant. There were so many activities and so many interesting people to speak with.

- Attendee

The LITerary Fest organized by Burst Into Books was a phenomenal celebration highlighting literary culture and togetherness. It was well executed and we were thrilled to be a part.

- Chrislin Flanagan


This event was supported by a Chicago Presents grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Event.

Chicago Presents is a grant program to support the presentation of free arts programming in Chicago
while bolstering the local arts event industry.


Chicago Presents grant recipients are established and emerging cultural presenters who submitted proposals for large-scale indoor or outdoor events across artistic disciplines, including festivals, series, art fairs, block parties and parades, spanning all genres, that activate Chicago’s neighborhoods.


Awarded events will take place in Chicago in 2023 and are free and open to the public.

Jason Reynolds Photo Credit Adedayo “Dayo” Kosoko, 2020.jpg

Our 2023 Author Headliner is

Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books for young people, including Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely), Long Way Down, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (with Ibram X. Kendi), Stuntboy, in the Meantime (illustrated by Raúl the Third), and Ain’t Burned All the Bright (with artwork by Jason Griffin). He is the recipient of a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and multiple Coretta Scott King honors. Reynolds served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature from 2020-2022 and is the recipient of the 2023 Margaret A. Edwards Award. He has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, CBS This Morning, and Good Morning America. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC.


You can find his ramblings and learn more about him at


Our 2023 Headliner Illustrator is

Jerry Craft

JERRY CRAFT is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the graphic novels New Kid and Class Act.  New Kid is the only book in history to win the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature (2020); the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019), and the Coretta Scott King Author Award for the most outstanding work by an African American writer (2020). Jerry was born in Harlem and grew up in the Washington Heights section of New York City.


He will be leading an illustration workshop at the festival too.

You can learn more about him at


Media Features


Words Of Wonder Literary Festival Bringing ‘The Best’ Creatives To The South Side Saturday


Inspiring the next generation of readers


This Saturday, Burst Into Books Presents the 2nd Annual W.O.W. Lit Fest


Our 2023 Mainstage Moderator is

Dr. Eve L. Ewing

Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a writer, scholar, and cultural organizer from Chicago. She is the award-winning author of four books: the poetry collections Electric Arches and 1919, the nonfiction work Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side, and a novel for young readers, Maya and the Robot. She is the co-author (with Nate Marshall) of the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. She has written several projects for Marvel Comics, most notably the Ironheart series, and is currently writing Black Panther. Ewing is an associate professor in the Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity at the University of Chicago. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other venues. Currently she is working on her next book, Original Sins: The (Mis)education of Black and Native Children and the Construction of American Racism, which will be published by One World.

You can learn more about her at

Image by Manu

W.O.W Lit Fest


Main Stage Performances:

11:00 am to 11:30 am


DJ Donnell & London

12:30 pm to 1:30 pm


DJ Donnell & London

3:00 pm to 3:30 pm


DJ Donnell & London

11:30 am to 12 pm

W.O.W. Lit. 

Feature Hour

Jerry Craft & Eve L. Ewing

1:30 pm to 2 pm


Youth Readings

4:00 pm to 4:45 pm


Emily Hooper Lansana & Zahra Baker

12:00 pm to 12:30 pm


Erica Bauer

2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

W.O.W. Lit

Feature Hour

Jason Reynolds &

Eve L. Ewing

4:45 pm to 5:00 pm


DJ Donnell & London

Main Floor Performances:

3:30 pm

Dance Performance 👉🏾 South Shore Drill Team

Outdoors Main Performances:

1:00 pm

Ensemble 👉🏾 Chicago Bulls' Bucket Boys

Book Signings:

12 pm to 12:30 pm

1 pm to 1:30 pm

3 pm to 3:30 pm

Jerry Craft 

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad & Dr. Eve L. Ewing

Jason Reynolds

Sign up for the 

Dare to Share Workshops

Come engage in writing and illustration workshops!

Workshop Series Schedule


Author | Professor of Curriculum


New York Times Bestselling Author And Illustrator


Assistant Professor of Elementary

Literacy Education

2023 Sponsors 

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Meet Our Hosts

Our festival hosts this year are a father and daughter duo!


Legendary Artist


Actress | Vocalist | Emcee | Poet | Star

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Image by Leyre

Health and Wellness Area


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Image by Kaja Reichardt

Dental information and screenings

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Smile Check

Vision Screenings

Read More
Vision Exam

Health Resource Tables

Read More
Doctor's Visit

Outdoor activities at the festival will be hosted by:


Youth & Family Area

  12:30 pm 

African Drumming and Dancing 

1:30 pm

Author Storytimes with Markedia Alston & Clothilde Ewing

3:00 pm

Dr. Cartman and Company (Drumming Circle)

Interactive Stations

Book Making Area


Cultural Art Exploration


Creative Writing

Patrick Oliver

Music Production

Mobile Art Cart

William Estrada

Food Trucks

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