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Get‘em while they’re young

Just around the corner is Versfest, Berlin's multilingual (German and English) literary festival for kids, replete with readings, workshops, talks, and poetry nights – all free of charge. Catch it Mar 20-22 if you can get the kids away from school.

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Jacqueline Woodson opens the festival March 20 in English. Photo: public domain

Part of the International Literature Festival, Versfest presents three days of poetry and literature for kids.

Image for Get‘em while they’re young

The grown-up Literature Festival isn’t until September, but mini-bookworms can delight in this programme of readings, workshops and talks in both German and English. It’s all open to the public and free of charge, though parents looking to bring their brats might be out of luck, as most events start early and are geared toward school classes. Case in point: the 9am kickoff on March 20 with an English-language opening address and reading by Jacqueline Woodson, author of 2014’s prize-winning Brown Girl Dreaming, an adolescent novel told in verse about growing up as an African American in the US during the 1960s civil rights movement. The following day, Franz Hohler, one of the luminaries of kids’ lit in Germany, will read from his new book, Es war einmal ein Igel (Mar 21, 9:00); his simple, witty prose is especially recommended for kids aged five through nine… or entry-level German learners of all ages. For a more musical offering in English, Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate to the Queen of England, will read from her new book, The Princess’ Blankets, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist John Sampson (Mar 22, 9:30).

Outside school hours, there are poetry nights at Lettrétage (Mar 21, 20:00) and Literaturforum im Brecht-Haus (Mar 20, 20:00) as well as the closing exhibition Unique Poetry, featuring book recommendations from all invited authors, held at the Philipp Schaeffer Library through April 7.

Versfest Mar 20-23 Collegium Hungaricum and other venues, see literaturfestival.com for full programme