As you’ve probably experienced from past Boston Book Festivals, the sheer number of sessions is like a literary feast set out for hungry readers (the last in-person Festival we hosted had over 150 sessions!). But you’ve also probably felt that panic of “What do I choose?” when you open up that two-page multi-colored spread of sessions in the program guide. (I know I have!)
Because that schedule can be a bit daunting, even in a virtual year, we’re here to help you find the sessions you want to attend so you can see a favorite author, learn something new, think about the world around you in different ways, or discover some new reads for your TBR pile. And because the majority of our sessions will be virtual this year, you don’t need to worry about sprinting down Boylston Street or Washington Street to get to the next session (being sure to grab a grilled cheese on the way). Let’s get started!
Kids and Middle Grade Sessions for 2021
Unfortunately, the shift to virtual programming downsized much of our planned kids programming, but we still have ways for kids to hear from their favorite authors online, and we’ve created in-person opportunities for families to connect around a love of reading as well. Like last year, we’ll be setting up three Story Walks around Boston, and will host virtual story times featuring the chosen books: a story time with Jason Chin and Andrea Yang, with their book Watercress featured in Chinatown; a story time with Raúl the Third, with his book ¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge! featured in East Boston; and a story time with Katie Yamasaki, with her book Dad Bakes featured in Nubian Square. We’ll also have in-person activities and a story time at the reopening of the BPL’s Roxbury Branch. You’ll also get to tune into a children’s and YA book awards ceremony (Boston Globe—Horn Book Awards Feature). And for middle grade readers, we have a session on graphic novel furry friends (Middle Grade Graphic Novels: Cats vs. Dogs).
Here’s your guide to our kids and middle grade sessions.
Story Time: Jason Chin and Andrea Yang
Jason Chin and Andrea Wang
Monday, October 18 at 3:00pm | Virtual
This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing a story about a family and their traditions beautifully told through watercolor, and to get a preview of our Chinatown Story Walk.
What you’ll find in this session: Writer Andrea Wang and illustrator Jason Chin will read their story about a Chinese American family’s mealtime and the discovered tradition and nostalgia within, gorgeously illustrated with Chin’s watercolors.
What you’ll take away from it: Every kid, whether from an immigrant family or not, will relate to the story of family traditions, especially food traditions.
Michelle Mee Nutter, Colleen AF Venable, and Stephanie Yue, with host Jef Czekaj
Monday, October 18 at 4:00pm | Virtual
This session is for readers interested in…: Determining definitively whether it’s “Cats or dogs?” as well as finding middle grade graphic novels focused on best furry friends.
What you’ll find in this session: A Cats v. Dogs draw-off! On Team Dog, Michelle Mee Nutter and her graphic novel about a girl who wants a dog despite her allergies, will challenge Team Cat, with writer Colleen AF Venable and illustrator Stephanie Yue and their graphic novel about a girl and the 217 felines she catsits. Author Jef Czekaj moderates the discussion, competition, and voting.
What you’ll take away from it: The humans who love their furry friends can have a little fun and find some great new reads, too.
This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing a sweet story about the love between a father and daughter, and to get a preview of our Nubian Square Story Walk.
What you’ll find in this session: Muralist Katie Yamasaki’s work with formerly incarcerated people inspired this story of a father and daughter who bake bread together every day, and the quiet moments they share together.
What you’ll take away from it: The power of simple connection between parents and children.
This session is for readers interested in…: The awards ceremony of the annual children’s and YA prize.
What you’ll find in this session: The Boston Globe—Horn Book Awards were first presented in 1967, and they’ll be hosting their 2021 awards ceremony virtually on October 22, honoring authors in YA fiction and poetry, YA nonfiction, and picture book.
What you’ll take away from it: The chance to discover new, awarding-winning authors.
This session is for readers interested in…: Gathering in person at the reopening of the BPL Roxbury branch, and participating in creating some chalk art.
What you’ll find in this session: Local artist Zahirah Nur Truth will lead the community through chalk art activities, perfect for families and those wanting to add a little artistic inspiration to Nubian Square.
What you’ll take away from it: Connect with others outside and in person, as well as through some fun creative expression.
BPL Roxbury Branch Reopening: Dream Street Story Time
Ekua Holmes and Tricia Elam Walker
Saturday, October 23 at 1:00pm | In Person
This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing from two Roxbury natives as they read their picture book in person at the BPL’s Roxbury branch reopening.
What you’ll find in this session: Roxbury natives—and cousins—writer Tricia Elam Walker and illustrator Ekua Holmes will talk about their new picture book inspired by the people and places of their Roxbury neighborhood.
What you’ll take away from it: A homage to childhood memories and joy found in someone’s neighborhood.
I hope this guide has helped you get a glimpse into the vast array of writers and what they’re working on who will join us for the 2021 Boston Book Festival. Head to the main schedule to browse all sessions and for registration links, and we’ll see you there!