Today marks the first-ever American Booksellers Association’s ABC Children’s Institute, and the day’s agenda is chock-full of educational sessions, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, author hobnobbing, and other festivities.

The idea for the daylong event, says Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, ABA’s senior program officer, was conceived after the ABA-ABC merger. “One of our goals after the two organizations merged was to make sure we continue to provide education for children’s booksellers and for members from general bookstores who sell children’s books,” she says. “Children’s books are a strong and growing category for independents, and keeping booksellers better informed is a top priority for us. The Children’s Institute will be a wonderful day of education and fun events.”

Today’s lineup looks like this:

Children’s Book and Author Breakfast, 8–9:30 a.m., Special Events Hall. Walter Dean Myers, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, will offer an opening welcome. The event is emceed by Chris Colfer, an actor on TV’s Glee and a debut children’s book author (The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, Little, Brown). Speakers include John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Dutton), Lois Lowry (Son, Houghton Mifflin), and Kadir Nelson (I Have a Dream, Random House/Schwartz & Wade).

Opening Plenary: Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age, 10–10:45 a.m., Room 1E12/13. In this session, which will open with remarks by ABA president Becky Anderson, Kelly Gallagher, v-p, publishing work flow solutions at R.R. Bowker, will discuss activities, purchasing influences, and behaviors of today’s children’s book consumer.

The Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz panel takes place 11–11:50 a.m., Room 1E12/1E13. Five editors of middle-grade books will discuss an upcoming novel that they are especially excited to be publishing. Participants and the books they will discuss are Virginia Duncan, v-p and publisher of Greenwillow Books (Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar); Steve Geck, editorial manager of Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris by Marissa Moss); Alvina Ling, editorial director, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Grace Lin’s Starry River of the Sky); Kate O’Sullivan, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children executive editor (Malcolm at Midnight by W.H. Beck); and Jason Rekulak, creative director of Quirk Books (Charles Gilman’s Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1: Professor Gargoyle).

Speed Dating Lunch with Children’s Authors, 12:15–1:45 p.m., Room 1E14/1E15. After opening remarks by Robin Adelson, CBC’s executive director, authors will move from table to table, offering lunching booksellers insight into their new books. Eighteen authors are scheduled to participate in the event, including Jeffrey Bennett, Tonya Bolden, Patricia Reilly Giff, Wes Moore, Mike Mullin, and Marilyn Singer.

Reaching the Middle-Grade Reader panel, 2–3:15 p.m., Room 1E09, will address the developmental stages of middle-grade readers and how booksellers can better serve the needs of middle-grade readers. The panel features YA author R.J. Palacio; Karen Lotz, Candlewick president and publisher; Jason Wells, executive director of children’s publicity and marketing at Abrams; Lisa Von Drasek, director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College of Education; Margaret Brennan Neville of the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City; and Trish Brown of Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, Va. Jennifer M. Brown, children’s editor of Shelf Awareness, will moderate.

Meeting the Literacy Needs in Your Community panel, 2–3:15 p.m., Room 1E10, offers a discussion about how booksellers can access literacy needs and bring books and literacy to the children who need them most. Dara LaPorte, cofounder of An Open Book Foundation, will moderate a panel that includes Meghan Goel of BookPeople in Austin, Tex.; Ellen Richmond, owner of Children’s Book Cellar in Waterville, Maine; Carol Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental; Jennifer Frances of Bess the Book Bus; and Hillary Roselund, associate director of national programs for Jumpstart.

ABA/CBC Tea with Children’s Authors and Illustrators, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Room 1E12/1E13, will give booksellers a chance to share a cuppa with children’s book creators, who will talk about their work. Among the 17 authors and illustrators due to participate are Mac Barnett, Kristin Cashore, Shannon Hale, Patricia MacLachlan, Chris Raschka, and Jerry Spinelli.

Some of Our Favorite Things: Booksellers Share Best Practices, 5–6 p.m., Room 1E06, is an informal, knowledge-sharing fair at which booksellers reveal their stores’ initiatives and specialties through creative poster displays.

Focused Roundtables, 5–6 p.m., Rooms 1E09 and 1E10, features roundtable discussions on specific topics. In Room 1E09: Building Relationships with Teen Bloggers, How to Sell a Wordless Picture Book, and Navigating the Dialogue: Content and YA. In Room 1E10: Building Successful Story Times, How to Host Awesome Authorless Events, and Buying and Selling Non-Book Merchandise.

Annual Children’s Art Auction and Reception, 6–8 p.m., South Concourse. This event will include silent and live auctions of original artwork from children’s books—from sketches and studies to finished paintings and limited edition prints. Proceeds will benefit the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression’s defense of the First Amendment rights of young readers. Walter Dean Myers serves as honorary chair of this event, and will share auctioneer duties with his son, author and illustrator Christopher Myers.