On September 3, authors, illustrators, and book lovers gathered in Washington, D.C., for the first fully in-person National Book Festival since the pandemic started. The event featured author conversations and several panels focusing on children’s and YA literature and authors, as well as book signings and photo-ops. We’ve gathered highlights from the event.

(From l.): authors Donna Barba Higuera, David Bowles, Ruth Behar, and Juliet Menéndez gather at the National Book Festival’s opening reception.

Moderators Austin Ferraro (not pictured) and Ava Luo (far l.) spoke with authors (from l.) Victoria Aveyard (Blade Breaker), Namina Forna (The Merciless Ones), and Chloe Gong (Our Violent Ends) about writing their YA sequels.

Kwame Alexander chats with an attendee while signing a copy of his book Crossover.

(From l.): authors Darcie Little Badger, Donna Barba Higuera, Malinda Lo, and Dhonielle Clayton gather for their panel “Meet Me in the Winner’s Circle: Award Winning Writers.”

At a presentation commemorating the 75th anniversary of Goodnight Moon, festival director Clay Smith (l.) and author Mac Barnett (r.) discuss the picture book’s longstanding impact on children’s literature.

Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden (r.) dropped by the Scholastic booth for pictures with festival-goers at the Dog Man and Cat Kid photo-op wall.

Authors Ebony LaDelle (l.) and David Valdes (r.) discuss their perspectives on writing love stories during their panel “Love Me Like a Love Song: Fresh Takes on Romance.”

Newbery Honoree Darcie Little Badger at the Politics and Prose bookstand.

Blackout (Quill Tree) authors (from l.) Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, and Dhonielle Clayton strike a pose.

Arthur creator Marc Brown in conversation with WJLA anchor Allison Starling about his illustrated book Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur.

Author Jennifer Ziegler signs copies of her middle grade novel Worser.

Authors Kat Fajardo (c.) (Miss Quinces) and Johnnie Christmas (r.) (Swim Team) talk all things graphic novels with moderator Megan Halsband (l.).

Author Soman Chainani signs books from his School for Good and Evil series ahead of the book’s Netflix adaptation in October.

Author Ruth Behar presents her picture book Tía Fortuna’s New Home.