In about two weeks, the China Shanghai Children’s Book Fair (CCBF), the biggest event dedicated to books and content for children in Asia Pacific, will be held at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre. Running from November 17 to 19, it is gearing up to celebrate its 10th anniversary and will mark its first full in-person event since 2019.

Co-organized by Ronbo BolognaFiere, this year’s CCBF is set to host approximately 478 exhibitors, including 127 from overseas, in the 25,000-square-meter exhibition space. With the Chinese borders fully reopened to foreign travelers, overseas exhibitors are returning in large numbers. Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, and the U.K., for instance, will have their national pavilions. An estimated 30,000 children’s titles will be on display for the anticipated 45,000 fair attendees. The exhibition floor will have two distinct zones, copyright and hybrid, with the latter accessible to the public after the first day of the fair. (In comparison, the pre-pandemic 2019 event saw 418 exhibitors, of which 186 came from overseas, and about 40,978 visitors, including 16,145 professional visitors from 50 countries/territories.)

BOP-Bologna Prize Lounge, which brings together publishers from Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America, as well as the Rights Centre are returning for this year’s edition. For those unable to make the trip to Shanghai, the CCBF online matchmaking system is now open to connect with fair exhibitors. The fair is also throwing the spotlight on nonfiction picture books with a special exhibit “Children Plus: Beauty and the World” that covers themes ranging from architectural marvels to pop-science.

About 300 professional exchange sessions and reading promotion activities will be held in conjunction with the fair. Nine professional seminars are set to take place to encourage cross-cultural exchanges, with some delving deep into original content from around the world while a few more will focus on industry outlook reports. “How to cross language and cultural boundaries,” “Fairy tale rewritings,” and “The award winners’ series” are among these sessions. As usual, there will be an analysis by Beijing-based OpenBook, a clearinghouse for publishing statistics in China, on the country’s children’s book market for the first nine months of the year accompanied by predictions and insights for the coming months.

This year’s line-up of guests at CCBF includes Hans Christian Andersen award winners Cao Wenxuan, Fabian Negrin, and Suzy Lee; Bologna Ragazzi award winner Bernardo P. Carvalho; Hugo award nominee Victo Ngai; and Zhu Chengliang, who won the Golden Apple award at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava.

Illustrators (and illustrations) take the center stage at this fair with the Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition receiving nearly 2,600 submissions from 79 countries/territories. Then there is the Illustrators Survival Corner, which is once again partnering with Milan-based Mimaster Illustrazione to offer 10 masterclasses, nine creative workshops, and 27 one-on-one mentorship sessions—all aimed at empowering and encouraging young illustrators.

With nearly 600 publishers adding 20,000 new titles per year to the 300,000 already in circulation for an audience of about 370 million children and young adults, China remains one of the largest children’s book markets in the world. The Chinese children’s book segment grew 21.2%, 13.7%, and 18.5% in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively. But the double-digit expansion streak ended when the pandemic hit, with 2020 and 2021 recording increases of 1.9% and 1.6%, respectively, followed by a contraction of nearly 7% last year. The segment still accounted for 28.6% of China’s total book retail market in 2022, which underscores its potential to domestic and overseas publishers alike.