Children's Institute Program

Sunday, April 19, 2015  

10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Since 1996, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has been bringing together the people who create books with the people who love to read them. It has evolved to include live bands, poetry readings, cooking demonstrations, photography exhibits, film screenings, and discussion panels.

As the 2015 Children's Institute begins immediately following the conclusion of the festival, ABA has arranged for a central meeting place for booksellers and luggage storage for Ci3 attendees in Board Room 201 on the second floor of the Radisson Hotel on the University of Southern California campus, where the festival is being held.  See details about public transportation options to and from the Festival.

Read more about the L.A. Times Festival of Books here.

5:30 pm to 6:15 pm

With his bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney has been widely credited with turning reluctant readers onto books and now he is continuing the campaign to bring great stories to all readers by becoming a bookseller.  His new store, An Unlikely Story, is opening this spring in his hometown of Plainville, Massachusetts, and Jeff will share what he’s learned from the incredible trajectory of his series and travels as an author that made him want to open a store and how he’s preparing for the transition.

6:15 pm to 7:30 pm

Join us as we welcome booksellers from across the country, along with executives and team members from We Need Diverse Books, including Ellen Oh, Aisha Saeed, I.W. Gregorio, Nicola Yoon, and Lisa Yee.  The Opening Reception is co-sponsored by Publishers Weekly.  Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served.

Monday, April 20, 2015  

8:00 am to 9:00 am

Mac Barnett and Jory John—co-authors of The Terrible Two—met through their jobs at 826LA and 826 Valencia, nonprofit centers that give kids free help with their creative and expository writing. Mac and Jory will discuss their work with 826 and their belief that one way to ensure we have diverse writers is by making sure students everywhere—especially in low-income neighborhoods—have access to free, fun, high-quality writing instruction.

9:00 am to 7:00 pm

The Galley Room will be open with Children's Institute publisher sponsors providing ARCs for nearly 100 upcoming titles.  A limited supply of book bags will be on hand in the Galley Room.


9:15 am to 10:15 am

Renting out event space in your store for birthday parties and other occasions is a great way to diversify sales and add revenue, but what resources are required and what should you expect to provide? Leading booksellers with extensive in-store birthday party operations will discuss how to get started, what kind of packages you might consider offering, and how to market to—and beyond—your customer base.

  • Cynthia Compton, 4 Kids Books & Toys (Zionsville, IN)
  • Barbara Khan, Jack & Allie's (Vernon, CT)
  • Lauren Savage, The Reading Bug (San Carlos, CA)
  • Amy Thomas, Pegasus Books (Berkeley, CA) (moderator)

When it comes to reaching out to new readers and promoting diverse titles to all audiences, independent bookstores are in a unique position to foster conversation. Whether your store serves a multicultural or homogeneous population, leading booksellers in the ongoing campaign, along with executives from the We Need Diverse Books team, will share suggestions on how to send clear messages about diversity in the daily routines of the bookstore. By examining areas such as staffing, inventory, displays, publicity, and events, panelists will highlight best practices and discuss how making adjustments in the message your store sends can have a significant impact on your relationship with the community.

  • Lynn Mooney, Women & Children First (Chicago, IL)
  • Hannah Moushabeck, Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley, MA)
  • Aisha Saeed, VP of Strategy for We Need Diverse Books and author of Written in the Stars (Nancy Paulsen Books)
  • I.W. Gregorio, Vice President of Development for We Need Diverse Books and author of None of the Above (Balzer + Bray)
  • Sara Hines, Eight Cousins (Falmouth, MA) (moderator)

Motivated by the joy of giving—and with disposable income to act on it—grandparents represent a potentially profitable and untapped market for many bookstores.  Learn how to create displays with “grandma appeal” and what events and activities you can offer to bring these customers into your store, as well as how to reach out to local retirement communities and assisted living facilities.

  • Jennifer Armstrong, Northshire Bookstore (Saratoga Springs, NY)
  • Ketsia Julmeus, Books & Books (Coral Gables, FL)
  • Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC) (moderator)

10:30 am to 11:30 am

Bookstores everywhere are resources and gathering places in their communities but underrepresented and disenfranchised students often lack the means to visit your store or are unaware of how much you have to offer.  In these cases, partnering with religious, cultural, and non-profit organizations, as well as underprivileged schools, can help reach new customers.  Learn from booksellers across the country who have been successful in bridging this divide and creatively getting a share of Title I money so books can find a home in diverse households of all income levels.

  • Jenny Cohen, Waucoma Bookstore (Hood River, OR)
  • Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)
  • Sarah Hutton, Village Books (Bellingham, WA) (moderator)

For booksellers, there are few greater triumphs than placing the right book in the hands of any reader, but that is especially true for kids who rarely if ever read for their own pleasure.  How can we reach these non-readers and what can be done to turn them into readers?  Booksellers and educators who have been successful in the ongoing struggle to reach reluctant readers will be joined by bestselling author and literacy advocate Jon Scieszka to share their passion to make a difference and discuss what they have learned works best for inspiring children to want to read.

  • Erin Barker, Hooray for Books! (Alexandria, VA)
  • Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English Bookshop (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Kim Laird, Reading Specialist at Upland Unified School District (San Bernardino County, CA)
  • Jon Scieszka, author of Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger (Amulet Books) and founder of Guys Read
  • Laura Donohoe, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café (Asheville, NC) (moderator)

A children’s book festival can be an ideal vehicle to promote reading and literacy in your community.  Booksellers with vast experience at literary festivals around the country will explain how to get started with your own children's or teen festival, working in partnership with other local businesses and organizations, attracting authors and publicists, and garnering media attention.  How narrow or broadly should your focus be, when are the best times of year, and what other considerations must go into such an undertaking?  Learn all this and more before adding a festival to your events calendar.

  • Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston, TX), Coordinator for the Bookworm Festival for Emerging Readers, Tweens Read, and TeenBookCon
  • Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA), Children and Teen Program Manager for the AJC Decatur Book Festival
  • Meghan Goel, BookPeople (Austin, TX), Program Director for the Texas Teen Book Festival
  • Liesl Freudenstein, Boulder Book Store (Boulder, CO) (moderator)

11:45 am to 1:45 pm

Enjoy lunch and learn about great upcoming titles from the Children's Institute's full sponsors at the Rep Picks Speed Dating Luncheon.

2:00 pm to 2:45 pm

Two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee and Beach Lane Books publisher Allyn Johnston will share a lively behind-the-scenes glimpse into the editorial and artistic development processes involved in the many celebrated picture books they have made together over their 15-year collaboration.

3:15 pm to 4:15 pm

Vroman’s Bookstore, just steps from the Hilton Pasadena, carries an extensive selection of non-book and gift items for children.  A store tour will follow this off-site session on creating the right balance of sideline product for super-wow displays while keeping in mind your overall aesthetic.  Learn how to find amazing gifts that complement the ambiance of your store or children's department and inspire impulse buys as kids and parents alike are awed by what they won’t find anywhere else.

  • Jesica DeHart, Childrren's Book and Non-Book Buyer at BookPeople of Moscow (Moscow, ID)
  • B.J. Hegedus, Chief Merchandising Designer at Vroman’s Bookstore
  • Alison Keyes, Head Gift and Stationery Buyer at Vroman’s Bookstore
  • Danielle Borsch, Children's Manager at Vroman’s Bookstore (moderator)

4:15 pm to 5:00 pm

Immediately following the off-site breakout session at Vroman's on Buying and Merchandising Non-Book, see for yourself the impressive merchandising and extensive selection of children's sidelines on display in southern California's oldest and largest independent bookstore.  

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Relax with your colleagues and meet authors from all of the Children's Institute's publisher sponsors.  Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served.  Please click here for a list authors currently scheduled to appear, as well as upcoming editions of Bookselling This Week for additional authors as they are confirmed.

9:00 pm to 11:00 pm

Join authors Alex Gino (George), Cherie Priest (I Am Princess X), Spencer Quinn (Bowser & Jolene) and Peter Sis (Ice Cream Summer) for drinks and dessert, sponsored by Scholastic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015  

7:45 am to 8:50 am

In a series of brief presentations, the Children's Institute's additional sponsors will discuss their publishing programs and a small number of upcoming titles.

9:00 am to 9:45 am

Kristen McLean, founder and CEO of Bookigee and co-chair of Nielsen's Children's Book Summit, will present a comprehensive review of the U.S. children’s book market, with a deep-dive into the latest trends in pricing, volume, genres, gifting, and more. Originally offered as part of a full day of presentations revealing the findings of the 2014 Nielsen Children’s Book Industry Report, this session is an essential look at the state of the industry drawn from Nielsen’s full portfolio of sales and demographic data.

9:45 am to 3:00 pm

The Galley Room will be open with Children's Institute publisher sponsors providing ARCs for nearly 100 upcoming titles.  A limited supply of book bags will be on hand in the Galley Room. 

9:55 am to 10:45 am

Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston, TX) will lead a discussion on making category lists and integrating them into everday operations through your POS system or other means.

Shannon Grant of Books, Inc. (San Francisco, CA) will lead a discussion focusing on tips and key titles that can be used to help transition teen readers to your general fiction section. 

Linda McLoughlin Figel of {pages} a bookstore (Manhattan Beach, CA) will leads a discussion for booksellers who either attended or worked the festival to share perspectives, observations, and lessons learned.

Suzanna Hermans of Oblong Books and Music (Rhinebeck and Millerton, NY) will lead a discussion on various resources available for identifying non-majority stories and how to best use them.

Amanda Hurley of Inkwood Books (Tampa, FL) will lead a discussion on getting the most out of the Indies Introduce program through in-store displays and promotional sales incentives. 

11:00 am to 12:00 pm

Making book recommendations is a skill unto itself, but before you can even begin to pull titles for some of your younger customers, it is helpful to determine what level they are reading at and what types of books are most appropriate.  This session will focus on practices educators, librarians, and literacy experts employ to gauge this information, as well as successful bookseller tactics for steering kids and their parents toward books for which they may be better suited.

  • Summer Dawn Laurie, Books Inc. (San Francisco, CA)
  • Claudia Maceo, The Twig Book Shop (San Antonio, TX)
  • Lesley Farmer, Librarianship Professor at California State University, Long Beach
  • Judy Bulow, Tattered Cover Book Store (Denver, CO) (moderator)

Learn how to attract capacity crowds week after week and how to market to this captive audience to drive sales.  Energetic and dynamic bookstore storytime leaders will discuss how to incorporate variety, pacing, and songs to add to the fun, as well as the risks and rewards of soliciting donations or even charging admittance.  This session will also include a demonstration of tips and tricks for wearing costume characters, including fun and easy ways to pose for pictures, how to deal with frightened children, and simple moves to make the character come alive.

  • Clare Doornbos, DIESEL, A Bookstore (Larkspur, CA)
  • Amy Oelkers, Red Balloon Bookshop (Saint Paul, MN)
  • Chudney Ross, Books and Cookies (Santa Monica, CA)
  • Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books (Wichita, KS) (moderator)

When you’re looking to create new revenue streams, prepaid book clubs allow stores the opportunity to offer a new customer service with little or no cost beyond planning and organization. Booksellers already running profitable clubs will discuss how to get started and what resources and tools are available to help. Learn how to price your book club, how to choose titles for a range of tastes while keeping an eye on margins, and how to effectively market to customers with nieces, nephews, and grandchildren living outside your community.

  • Heidi Powell, Politics & Prose (Washington, DC)
  • Ann Seaton, Hicklebee's (San Jose, CA)
  • Joanna Parzakonis, Bookbug (Kalamazoo, MI) (moderator)

12:15 pm to 1:00 pm

Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes is inspired to write stories that enrich our common humanity, as evidenced by her books for young readers, Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). To conclude the 2015 ABC Children's Institute, Jewell will discuss why diversity in children's literature is our next civil rights frontier: why it is an obligation of all of us for the future of our nation, and why we must not be afraid to cross boundaries.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016  

About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


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