Looking to inspire your little readers this spring? The Bay Area Book Festival comes to Berkeley at the end of April and it is the place to be to let your imagination run wild. There are book giveaways, readings by your favorite local authors, performances and tons of fun for the whole family. Read on to find out what you can expect when you head over!

To Do
There’s no shortage of family-friendly options at the festival. Both days have a long line-up of author panels and discussions with kid-centric activities and programs sprinkled in. The main thing to check out? The Showtime Stage in the Family Fest Zone. The stage is where you’ll find storytelling and live performances for every kind of reader.

As if that wasn’t enough, through a partnership with Half Price Books the festival will give away thousands of free kids’ books to encourage reading. Finally, there’s an epic list of fun stuff and DIY projects throughout the event, sponsored by Bay Area non-profits and service providers, like book-making and jugglers to bounce houses and a kiddie carnival (with rides, natch), making this a perfect festival of fun. Check here to plan your schedule then stop by the Family Fest Zone first thing.

To Learn
This year’s festival includes special focus on “Women Lit,” Native American voices, youth and writing/publishing. YA and children’s programming is especially strong with new middle-grade books from Dave Eggers, Newbery Award winner Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan, Wishtree) and former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, among many others.

To Watch
No doubt, the stars of this event are the books and their creators. All-star artists and illustrators including popular children’s authors like Dan Santat and Aaron Reynolds (authors of the new book, Dude!)—among many others—will be sharing their stories with kids in a big tent on the grass. It’s sure to get your family reading all the books.

To Inspire
For the older readers in your family there’s a poetry slam, a performance workshop and many panels featuring their favorite YA and middle grade authors. Lots here to get the gears turning for your future authors-in-training.

To Know
This event is two full days featuring nearly 250 authors. The festival will be clustered in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park and adjacent blocks. All outdoor venues have free admission. For indoor programs, the prices vary from a $10 guaranteed seat for a single event to a $15 general wristband that gets you into all events for both days (first-come first-served). Everyone under 18 gets in free to all indoor events, no wristbands needed. Expect some lines, but crowds aren’t bad when they’re full of happy readers. And, all events at the Showtime Stage in the Family Fest Zone are FREE!

Bay Area Book Festival
In and around Berkeley’s Civic Center Park
2151 Martin Luther King Jr Way.
Berkeley, CA
When: April 28-29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Online: bayareabookfest.org

Have you attended this literary extravaganza? What was your favorite part?

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—Kate Loweth & Mae Respicio

Photos courtesy of the Bay Area Book Festival