Book Festival at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

At the beginning of April the Book Festival’s Creative Learning Manager, Catherine Jones, had the opportunity to attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair as part of a Scotland in Bologna delegation. Here, she shares her experience of the world’s largest trade fair dedicated to books for children:

Bologna Children’s Book Fair is held over 6 halls in the massive Bologna Fiere conference centre and on first entrance it’s quite overwhelming, with over 1,200 exhibitors and 26,000 visitors. But I quickly got my bearings and proudly found our Scotland at Bologna Stand.

There’s incredible variety in the exhibitors from big international publishers such as HarperCollins and Faber & Faber to small independent companies and country-specific stands featuring various organisations (like ours!). Massive business takes place at lots of the publishers’ stands, with international rights for books being bought and sold.

It’s absolutely fascinating wandering through the halls and discovering trends and styles in the different countries represented. I particularly loved the bold, printed designs from Russia and the Ukraine and the beautifully detailed illustrations from Japan and China.

The Book Fair is a mecca for illustrators, with exhibitions demonstrating current trends in illustration around the world. The Fair is famous for its amazing illustrators’ wall, where anyone can pin up their business card, poster or an original illustration. I thought that this would be a great idea to replicate to brighten up a classroom wall, or to create at a school fair.

The Fair also hosts a large number of events and awards ceremonies. I went along to a great event introducing several International Children’s Laureates. If you’re not already familiar with our wonderful UK Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, then check out his blog. He’s created some beautiful motivational print-outs that are perfect for library or classroom walls to encourage children to get reading.

I also discovered more about the Aarhus 39 project, a collaboration between the European City of Culture 2017 and Hay Book Festival. The project will see the formation of an anthology of short stories for young people, written by 39 international authors and translated into English. Do get a copy of the anthology when it comes out in May if you can – it will be fascinating to see the common themes as well as the differences between the stories created.

A day of meetings, events and browsing stands can be pretty tiring, so it was a treat to take a break lounging in one of the amazing picture book hammocks! I think I’ll need to campaign for one of these in the office…

We shared our Scotland at Bologna stand with some great Scottish publishers and literature organisations. If you’re not familiar with them then it’s well worthwhile taking a look at their websites:


Cranachan Publishing

Floris Books

Barrington Stoke

Birlinn Ltd

Strident Publishing

Black and White Publishing

Little Door Books

Picture Hooks

The Gaelic Books Council

Jenny Brown Associates

A special thanks to Publishing Scotland ( ) for organising the collective stand.