While the grown-ups browse the best-seller shelves and queue up for an author signing at this weekend’s AJC Decatur Book Festival, the little ones in strollers and teens tagging along have their own activities to look forward to. Head to the interactive kids’ zone along Sycamore Street where favorite characters from the collections of Little Golden Book will be on hand and theatrical performances from Serenbe Playhouse, the Wren’s Nest and more will entertain. Throughout the streets of the event, keep a sharp eye out for Bookzilla, the festival’s big, green mascot with a book for a head and his own Twitter account (@BookzillaDBF).
But since the main focus here is on books, the kids will also find an array of authors who appeal specifically to their interests.
“We have fun activities for the stroller set and young readers, but we also try to intersperse that with stuff that’s more thoughtful,” said Diane Capriola, co-owner of Decatur’s Little Shop of Stories and organizer of the festival’s kid programming for the past few years. “And the children and teen stages are two of the most popular, so first thing Saturday and Sunday morning, you’ll find standing room only.”
Expect to find crowds gathering for authors who have redefined Wonder Woman for the 21st century, paired a bulldozer with a kitten and photographed underwater creatures. And check out these other highlights for young readers below.
Join the parades
Got kids who like to strut their stuff? They’ll have two chances to show off with parades on both days of the festival. On Saturday, the marchers are invited to come outfitted as their favorite superheroes and walk with Kelly DiPucchio, author of “Super Manny Stands Up!,” and the creators of the “Princess in Black” series. The Sunday parade encourages youngsters to bring a musical instrument (even if it’s homemade) to make a joyful noise behind leader Carmen Agra Deedy, the Atlanta author and storyteller whose latest book is “The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!”
9:30 a.m. Saturday, 11:30 a.m. Sunday, starts at the Decatur Square bandstand
Test your superhero knowledge
Thought you knew all there was to know about Wonder Woman and Spider-Man? “Superheroes Redefined” may give you a new perspective. Authors Leigh Bardugo and Jason Reynolds will share the secrets of how they updated these classic characters for a new generation of readers.
10-10:45 a.m. Saturday, Teen Stage
You’re not alone
Think being a teen is tough? You are in excellent literary company. Hear how authors Becky Albertalli, Annie Barrows and Elizabeth Eulberg have the main characters of their young adult books tackle the challenge of surviving teenage angst.
12:30-1:15 p.m. Saturday, Teen Stage
Former NBA All-Star Joe Barry Carroll presents his new book, “Black American Voices: Shared Culture, Values, and Emotions,” a showcase of black community experiences as told through photographs, art and narratives.
4:15-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Marriott Conference Center C
Cute and cuddly meets brawn
Author Candace Fleming and illustrator Eric Rohmann will talk about their latest tale featuring Bulldozer, a lovable construction character who stars in his own series. In this adventure, the machine with a heart takes on the care of a litter of adorable kittens.
10:45-11:15 a.m. Saturday, Children’s Stage
Cute, maybe not cuddly
David FitzSimmons, author and photographer of the “Curious Critters” series, talks about how he gets those up-close shots of the “aww”-inspiring and sometimes creepy creatures that grace his books. Look for details on his latest illustrated fiction project, “Up All Night,” featuring Wakem the Rooster.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-5:45 p.m. Sunday, Booth 611
Need a clue? Read this
Reading is known to make folks smarter, and kids who dive into the Clue Town Books will certainly come away with a ton of quirky info about Atlanta. The scavenger-hunt series takes readers to different areas of town such as Piedmont Park, the Beltline and Oakland Cemetery where the books’ clues lead them on walking adventures.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-5:45 p.m. Sunday, Booth 412
Time travel and pirates
Local author and Georgia Tech grad Sammy Powell keeps kids riveted to their reading with his “Fox Tree Chronicles,” the tales of two typical suburban kids who make a weird discovery in their backyard. The result is an adventure-filled trip back in time where they meet up with a pirate and other quirky characters.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-5:45 p.m. Sunday, Booth 537
Ready, set, code
Girls interested in the technology field will find inspiration from Reshma Saujani, founder of the national Girls Who Code organization, and author Tamara Ireland Stone, whose new book, “Click’d,” follows the story of young women coming up with ingenious apps for a competition.
3-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Children’s Stage
This topical conversation with author Alan Gratz and Luma Mufleh, CEO of the nonprofit Fugees Families, centers on Gratz’s new novel, “Refugee.” The book follows the overlapping stories of three children from different eras who flee their homelands for safer shores. The discussion will also include comments from members of Fugees Families.
4:30-5 p.m. Sunday, Children’s Stage