Children’s and YA booksellers will roll into the Crescent City Monday–Wednesday, June 10–12, for Children’s Institute 2024. “If you’ve attended Children’s Institute in the past, then you know there’s a celebratory quality to it,” says ABA CEO Allison Hill. “Children’s Institute in New Orleans means that quality is magnified 100 times by our very special host city. We can’t wait.”

As of May 1, 377 booksellers from 255 bookstores had registered to attend ABA’s 11th annual summer gathering, a tally that includes 58 first-time attendees. They’ll meet upwards of 60 authors at book signings and receptions, participate in education sessions, and visit publisher and exhibitor booths to learn about catalogs, industry tools, and sidelines. And they’ll leave with totes full of swag (namely books and ARCs) from the galley room.

A fais-do-do (Cajun dance party) of jazz, zydeco, and drumline medleys seems appropriate for the locale and nonstop activities to “pass a good time,” as the locals would say. “Baldwin & Co., with thanks to our publisher cosponsors, is graciously hosting attendees for a welcome to NOLA reception” on June 9, Hill says. In a city renowned for its carnival atmosphere, “booksellers are already planning their costumes for the opening reception costume party and their book selection for the book swap dinner on June 10. And that’s just the first 24 hours.”

Children’s Institute last convened in the Big Easy in 2018 with approximately 300 booksellers in attendance, and Gen de Botton, ABA senior manager of children’s bookselling programs and education, says she’s “thrilled to return.” Six years ago, “an amazing energy bolstered the community, and we set our sights on the future of children’s bookselling. Now we can see how the event has grown not only in attendance but in community.” Sessions will “focus on peer-to-peer learning, resource sharing, and sustainable and equitable approaches to children’s bookselling.”

Highlights will include bookstore tours, a Monday-evening opening keynote with Meg Medina and Tuesday breakfast keynote with Renée Watson (for PW’s q&as with Medina and Watson, see p. 10 and p. 16, respectively), and a presentation on queer storytelling by authors Rex Ogle and Mark Oshiro. A Wednesday breakfast roundtable, “Spotlight on Black Publishing,” brings together author and Just Us Books cofounder Cheryl Willis Hudson, author and Freedom Fire publisher Kwame Mbalia, Joy Revolution editor Bria Ragin, and ABA DEIA specialist Britt Camacho. Drag Story Hour representatives will conduct a Monday workshop on event safety and emcee a Wednesday afternoon karaoke party.

Hill encourages booksellers “to visit as many independent bookstores as possible, either on the bus tours or on their own.” For those not taking the full-day bus tour, she recommends the workshop “Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding with an Inclusive and Accessible Lens,” presented by Seattle consultancy Rise with Us. “We all need to stay vigilant about antiracism, inclusion, equity, and accessibility in our industry,” Hill says.

Anticipating another productive gathering in a fabled city, Hill urges ABA members to experience “the food, music, architecture, and amazing independent bookstores of New Orleans, the community of booksellers from all over the country, and the incredible list of authors. Like they say in New Orleans, ‘Laissez les bons temps rouler’ Let the good times roll!”

Read more from our Children's Institute Feature:

Children's Institute 2024: Bookselling in the Big Easy

New Orleans indies are vibrant community hubs in one of the liveliest and most colorful cities in the country. They not only sell books -- many offer innovative programming for both adults and children.

Children's Institute 2024: Authors and Illustrators to Meet

More than 60 authors and illustrators will interact with booksellers in New Orleans, during keynotes, panel sessions, dinners, a reception and publisher-sponsored after party, and, of course, the costume party.

Children's Institute 2024: It Takes a Village: PW talks with Meg Medina

Medina, 2023-2024 national ambassador for young children’s literature, spoke with PW about how the village really does raise a child, and her memory of firing a beloved babysitter when she was young.

Children's Institute 2024: The Poetry of Grief: PW Talks with Renée Watson

Watson spoke with PW about writing in prose, the power of community, and holding space for all Black children’s emotions.

Children's Institute 2024: One Man's Treasure: PW talks with Andrew Larsen

Larsen spoke with PW about upcycling, the anthropological significance of garbage, and his forthcoming picture book 'Gifts from the Garbage Truck: A True Story About the Things We (Don’t) Throw Away.'

Children's Institute 2024: Growing New Roots: PW Talks with Ruth Chan

Chan, whose immigrant parents returned the family to Hong Kong after years in Toronto, spoke with PW about the memoir form, culture shock, and getting over teenage insecurities.

Children's Institute 2024: Lift Every Voice and Sing: PW Talks with Cheryl Willis Hudson

Hudson, the co-founder of Just Us Books and a children’s book author, spoke with PW about the enduring impact both of African-American spirituals and of BIPOC indie presses.