Welcome to this year’s youth programs!

The 2021 Bay Area Book Festival’s Youth Program puts young readers in the spotlight, as they share the virtual stage (and ideas, insights, and laughter) with some of the most exciting voices in YA and middle-grade literature today.  Our Young Readers Stage may be on a screen this year, but it’s still home to a new generation of budding young activists, writers, and entrepreneurs, holding their own (and then some) with famous, bestselling authors, including Newbery Medalist Meg Medina and Notes from a Young Black Chefauthor and Top Chef star Kwame Onwuachi.

This slate of seven programs is a showcase not only for top-notch and hugely popular authors, but for savvy young dreamers who are making their communities better and sharing their own unique voices with the world.  We’re especially excited to debut an event showing off the inaugural cohort of our newest creative writing/mentorship program for girls of color, Write Your Story, in collaboration with Cinnamongirl Inc.

We’ll see you the first week of May, for a literary adventure that proves the future’s as bright as can be.

  • Age Range

    Middle grade through YA

  • Special Features

    A Top Chef, History of Hip-Hop, and kids that save the world!

  • Free

    Our Virtual Youth events are all free to attend. We do ask that you register in advance

Each event listing includes registration. As you check out, don’t forget to get the authors’ books at a discounted rate through our official Partner Bookstore, the renowned Green Apple Books!

Full Youth Schedule

for a schedule for the general programs, please click here

Saturday, May 1
  • 2021

Boss Up Like a Girl: Building Up Teen Entrepreneurs

Teen entrepreneurs Simone Bridges and Adelle Pritchard in conversation with Quinn Boyd-Roberts and Brian 'The Startup Squad' Weisfeld

Saturday, May 1

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

It’s never too soon to be a boss. Come listen in while Quinn Boyd-Roberts,14, aspiring entrepreneur and avid reader, picks the brains of Simone Bridges, 15, and Adelle Pritchard, 17, two young dream-weavers who are taking charge and killing it in the business world. This trio of magnates-in-the-making will be joined by Brian Weisfeld, author of The Startup Squad (a middle-grade series hailed as “The Baby-sitters Club for the next generation”) and founder of the organization of the same name that empowers young girls to follow their passions and reach their potential through entrepreneurship.


In association with


Saturday, May 1
  • 2021
  • Food
  • Memoir

Now We’re Cooking: A Top Chef on Making the Food of Your Dreams

Chef Kwame Onwuachi in conversation with Chariot Waddell and Jolie Wilson

Saturday, May 1

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

From a difficult upbringing in the Bronx and Nigeria to Top Chef stardom and a place on Food & Wine’s “best new chef” list, Kwame Onwuachi’s muse and first love has always been food. His memoir Notes From a Young Black Chef takes us through the rollercoaster journey that led him to presiding over a raved-about menu, at Washington DC’s Kith and Kin, that “honors my ancestors,” and to running a high-end kitchen that prioritizes diversity in its staff. With his acclaimed book now adapted for young-adult readers, Kwame’s joining two young foodies, Cinnamongirl’s Chariot Waddell, 15, and Jolie Wilson, 15, in the kitchen to share challenges, victories, and, of course, a cooking tip or two.


In association with 

Sunday, May 2
  • 2021
  • music
  • nonfiction

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: Learn Your Hip-Hop History

Jeff Chang, Dave 'Davey D' Cook in conversation with Madison Harvey

Sunday, May 2

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Hip-Hop, one of America’s most influential and constantly evolving musical genres, is about so much more than infectious beats, and you’re about to get schooled by the experts! Cinnamongirl Madison Harvey, 15, leads this electrifying conversation with Jeff Chang, whose award-winning hip-hop history, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, has just been adapted for young adult readers; and Dave ‘Davey D’ Cook, syndicated radio personality and hip-hop journalism pioneer. Learn about the fascinating roots and exciting future of the hip-hop generation…it’ll move your feet and your heart.


In association with 

Saturday, May 8
  • 2021
  • Race/Identity

Your Self on the Shelf: Books that Speak Your Language

Ellen Oh and Kelly Starling Lyons in conversation with Joanna Marple

Saturday, May 8

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

All kids and teens should be able to see themselves in the pages of the books they love. And who better to help than your friendly neighborhood librarian? In a conversation that couldn’t be more timely and important, Bay Area librarian Joanne Marple interviews two exciting voices on the vanguard of this topic: Ellen Oh, CEO of the grassroots nonprofit We Need Diverse Books, and Kelly Starling Lyons, member of The Brown Bookshelf, an organization championing Black-authored books for young readers, on how to dismantle barriers in children’s and young adult literature and embrace the tools to diversify our bookshelves.


In association with 


Saturday, May 8
  • 2021
  • Race/Identity
  • Writing & Publishing

I AM THE DREAM: Voices of a New Generation, Presented by Cinnamongirl, Inc.

Young Writers of Cinnamongirl, Inc. in conversation with Misa Sugiura

Saturday, May 8

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Summer 2020 marked the start of Write Your Story, an exciting year-long collaboration with Cinnamongirl, Inc, that brought creative-writing workshops and artistic mentorship to young women of color, ages 12 to 18. Our amazing inaugural cohort of girls spent the year honing their voices and their visions, with encouragement and instruction from a wonderful faculty of women authors of color, and now they’re ready to present their original work in a published anthology and reading at the Bay Area Book Festival. Celebrate these new rising literary stars and one of their instructors, award-winning YA author Misa Sugiura, as they share stories, insights, and nuggets of inspiration.


In association with 

Sunday, May 9
  • 2021
  • Environment/Nature

Who Saves the World? Girls!

Teen activists Shreya Ramachandran, Lilly Platt and Haven Coleman in conversation with Rachel Sarah

Sunday, May 9

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Learn how to save the world like a girl! Shreya Ramachandran, 17, Lilly Platt, 12, and Haven Coleman, 14, three phenomenal young women of Girl Warriors, bring us on their fearless climate-activism journey. From leading climate strikes to suing their governments, these inspiring eco-advocates will not back down until we have a planet that’s sustainable, healthy, and hospitable to all. Their stories are brought to life by Rachel Sarah in her book GIRL WARRIORS: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth, and they’re joining her for a spirited look at how we can all be warriors for justice and a better world.

This event is also part of the Festival’s Women Lit series

Sunday, May 9
  • 2021
  • Fiction
  • Middle Grade

Who Says Geniuses Can’t Dance?

Meg Medina and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich in conversation with young writers Mariah McCoy and Giselle Caban

Sunday, May 9

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Newbery Medalist Meg Medina’s new book, Merci Suárez Can’t Dance (a Kirkus “Most Anticipated Book of 2021”), re-introduces us to her touching, funny titular character, now a seventh-grader. Joining her in conversation is celebrated author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich with It Doesn’t Take a Genius, a hilarious and moving coming-of-age tale about a young boy’s self-actualizing journey at a historic Black summer camp. These two popular authors are interviewed by Mariah McCoy, 14, and Giselle Caban, 15, two writers who are part of the inaugural cohort of Write Your Story, a yearlong creative-writing workshop for young girls of color in partnership with Cinnamongirl, Inc. Tune in for a warm and intimate discussion of new books, the creative process, and the necessity of anchoring and nurturing diverse voices in literature.


In association with 

Sunday, May 2
  • 2021

The Invincible Power of Wattpad Authors

Sunday, May 2

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Wattpad Books turns the digital stories its community loves into published books. The result? Stories you can’t find anywhere else, by young writers from all over the world. Come listen to these two magnificent young authors as they tell the stories of their lives, their writing, and how their dreams came true through Wattpad and a mountain of talent. Daven McQueen won the Watty Award for Science Fiction and is the author of The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones. Mexican-born Shay Bravo, who won the 2019 Watty Awards, is the author of Historically Inaccurate. Together the authors garnered more than a million reads on Wattpad. Daven and Shay will be in conversation with Mariah McCoy, one of the dynamic young writers of Write Your Story, the Fest’s immersive creative writing and mentorship program for girls of color in partnership with Cinnamongirl, Inc.

In association with