Next month’s BookExpo America will give children’s booksellers a chance to see the newly merged Association of Booksellers for Children and the American Booksellers Association—or the ABC Children’s Group at ABA as it is now known—in action. ABA has not only kept popular ABC programs like the silent auction and reception, tea with children’s authors, and speed dating with children’s authors, but has upped the number of children’s-oriented panels and programming on the Day of Education (Monday, May 23). “My greatest hopes in terms of the support and programming are coming to pass,” says former ABC executive director Kristen McLean, who is consulting for ABA during the transition year. “I am grateful to my colleagues at ABA for being so good at what they do. I feel very confident in ABC’s future.”

ABC now has a five-member Board of Advisors, who also sit on the ABA Bookseller’s Advisory Council. To maintain continuity, two former ABC board members—Leslie Reiner, co-owner of Inkwood Books in Tampa, Fla., and Dara La Porte, former children’s books manager at Politics & Prose, now co-director of Literacy & Prose—were selected to be part of the new advisory board. Other members include: Andrea Vuleta, manager of Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop in LaVerne, Calif.; Judith Lafitte, owner of Octavia Books in New Orleans; and Libby Manthey, owner of Riverwalk Books in Chelan, Wash.

ABA staffers have been designated to assist with ABC. Beside her duties as membership relations manager for the regional trade associations in New Atlantic, New England, Northern California and Southern California, Kaitlin Pitchers will handle ABC membership relations. Industry relations assistant Carolyn Bennett will be the contact for E.B. White Book Awards and the ABC Catalog and New Voices program. She will also assist McLean in editing this year’s catalog, which ABA COO Oren Teicher assured PW would be available on time and to more booksellers than before, thanks to the merger.

As for BEA programming, rather than two panels on the Day of Education at the Javits Center, there will be five. McLean will moderate discussions on Conversion Strategies for Turning Mind Share into Market Share and on The Digital Market and the YA Audience. Other programming will cover selling nonbooks in the children’s department and creating events for kids, as well as a children’s roundtable.

In addition, ABA replaced its Indies Choice Book Awards for children with ABC’s E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, which were established in 2004. The 2011 winners will be honored at Tuesday’s Celebration of Bookselling Author Awards Luncheon. The day will kick off with the children’s breakfast, followed by speed dating. Laurie Halse Anderson will serve as honorary chair of the silent auction to be held Wednesday evening, May 25. This year’s proceeds will benefit the newly formed American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression Fund for Free Speech in Children’s Books. The Tea with Children’s Authors will take place that afternoon. See the schedule here.