“We are not doing a minor book fair,” said Elena Pasoli, program director of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. “We expect it will have the excitement and energy it always has.”

Pasoli was speaking of this year’s event, which is scheduled for March 21-24, and will be the first in-person book fair held in Bologna since 2019. Pasoli made her remarks earlier this week as part of a preview video interview hosted by the Facebook group Publishing Without Borders. She noted that the number of exhibitors was likely to be at least half of that of previous years, though that may change as the situation in Italy related to the coronavirus develops.

The theme of this year’s fair is “Children's Content Rocks: Join the Party!,” and Pasoli said that networking and gatherings will be a part of the fair, including the traditional party for exhibitors at the Palazzo Re Enzo in the city center. Still, the fair will encourage hosts to limit the number of people congregating at any one time to prevent large crowds.

The fair will offer numerous educational tracks. One will focus on the booming sales of graphic novels, comics, and manga around the world, and will include a panel of booksellers discussing the topic. Another area of focus will be the challenges of promoting reading in places where access to books is limited, such as in Brazilian favelas or in some communities in Africa.

The BolognaBooksPlus program, which was inaugurated last year as a way to incorporate more general trade education into the fair, will offer four days of programming, including a focus on training for aspiring literary agents, as well as offer information on self-publishing, literary translation, and book covers. Michèle Roberts will serve as the first Author Ambassador for BolognaBookPlus.

Many of the sessions will be available on video, and some sessions will be pre-recorded.

In addition, the shortlist for the BOP - Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year was announced, awarded annually to highlight excellent publishing houses from all over the world. Nominees for the prize come from six geographical areas, and are nominated by publishers, publishers' associations, and institutions devoted to reading promotion worldwide. The winners will be announced during the fair.

The nominated publishers are:


  • Editions Marsam (Morocco)
  • New Africa Books (South Africa)
  • Editions Elondja (Republic of the Congo)
  • Cassava Republic Press (Nigeria)
  • Ruisseaux d'Afrique (Republic of Benin)


  • Samir Editeur (Lebanon)
  • Pickle Yolk Books (India)
  • Woongjin Think Big (Republic of Korea)
  • Nishimura (Japan)
  • Kinderland / Bandal (Republic of Korea)


  • Samokat (Russia)
  • Liels un Mazs (Latvia)
  • Hélium (France)
  • Wytwornia (Poland)
  • Editions Thierry Magnier (France)


  • El Naranjo (Mexico)
  • Editorial Amanuta (Chile)
  • Leetra (Mexico)
  • Jujuba Editora (Brasil)
  • Calibroscopio (Argentina)


  • Monsieur Ed (Canada)
  • Greystone Books (Canada)
  • Abrams (USA)
  • Barefoot Books (USA)
  • Owlkids (Canada)


  • Affirm Press (Australia)
  • Magabala Books (Australia)
  • EK Books (Australia)
  • Huia Publishers (New Zealand)
  • Beatnik Publishing (New Zealand)