From swim team to soccer to even screen time, your summer weekends are jam-packed. Even so, there’s one thing you’ll want to make room for: the Third Annual Bay Area Book Festival happening June 3-4, 2017 in downtown Berkeley. This literary feast has something for everyone including story time for the littles to big-time author signings for tweens and teens. It’s all capped off by a huge street fair, a family entertainment zone and a giveaway of 10,000 free kids books (you heard that right!). Read on to discover how this event will get your whole family turning pages in no time.


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 new this year, and it’s 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.


This year’s festival highlights the power of literature for social change. Some of the activities have socially-conscious themes like freedom of expression and environmental sustainability, which may make good fodder for future family talks, and give your kids the tiniest taste of some literary activism.


No doubt, the stars of this event are the books and their creators. All-star artists and illustrators including popular children’s authors like William Joyce (Dinosaur Bob) and Ana Aranda (The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra)—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.


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.


This event is two full days featuring 200 authors, 100 lit sessions and 10 films. The festival will be clustered in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park and adjacent blocks, and it works pretty easy: buy your tickets…then go! The prices vary from an $8 guaranteed seat for a single event; a $15 general wristband that gets you into all events for both days (first-come first-served); or a $50 donor-level wristband that includes general admission to all events plus a whole lot of perks. 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
June 3-4, 2017
In and Around Berkeley’s Civic Center Park
2151 Martin Luther King Jr Way.
Berkeley, Ca

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

—Mae Respicio

All photos courtesy of the Bay Area Book Festival