The stage is set for the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF), a who’s who of China’s children’s publishing industry and those interested in reaching the country’s 230 million children under 16 years old.

Local names such as China Children’s Press & Publication, Shanghai Century Publishing, Jieli and Children’s Fun will be sharing the stage at ShanghaiMart Exhibition Center with exhibitors from more than 10 countries. The overseas contingent includes Hachette Children’s Books, Small World Creations, Scholastic, Penguin Random House and Garnet from the U.K., as well as Ian Taylor Associates (UK/China), Combined Book Exhibit and Bella & Harry (USA), Carrot and Kyowon (Korea), Kodansha (Japan), Kota Buku (Malaysia), Jacqueline Muller Books (Australia), Gemser (Spain), Campfire (India) and Clavis (Belgium).

Interest in this inaugural fair—a three-day event, running from November 7 to 9, with two trade days and the last day open to the public—continues to rise, helped no doubt by the extensive promotional activities conducted in 12 languages that covered nearly 47 countries/regions. In total, 600-plus press releases have been disseminated about the event.

The state of China’s children’s market itself is a big draw. Nearly 90% of children’s books in the country are imported or translated., China’s biggest online bookstore, also revealed that between 80% and 90% of its 2011 and 2012 top 10 children’s bestsellers were imports. Approximately 70% of Chinese parents buy books for their children every month, with a clear preference for imported titles to expose their children to varied content and increase their understanding of world cultures.

The fair, with its theme Embrace the Future Now, is focused on facilitating closer interaction between local and international book people. “CCBF will be the bridge that connects publishers with copyright traders, and authors with their fans. Exhibitors and visitors will, through this platform, discover a huge range of original print and digital content—books, e-books, educational software and other edutainment products. Our hope is that they will go away wanting more and looking forward to the next CCBF,” says Randy Wang, senior project manager at Reed Exhibitions, organizer of the fair, which is supported by the General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Occupying nearly 10,000 square meters of exhibition space, CCBF is expected to draw 200 exhibitors, 4,000 trade attendees and more than 15,000 public visitors. The inaugural event has lined up a series of programs to shed light on the children’s book segment. A roundtable, An Analysis of the Children’s Retail Market in China, and a forum on copyrights trading will be held on the first day, followed by two more roundtables the following day—Children’s Book Publishing: Global Resources, Local Editing, and The Publishing Model of Digital Children’s Books: A Comparison Between China and the Rest of the World.

Children’s publisher Pooyoyo will also host a panel discussion on China’s original children’s books on November 7, between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., while Jieli Publishing is scheduled to hold a press conference to launch Wang Xiaoming’s original picture book series, Peanut, on the following day at the same time slot.

Three major concurrent activities will be held during CCBF. The Shanghai International Festival of Children’s Books and Authors, for instance, features well-known international and local children’s writers who will participate in various forums, lectures and readings. Confirmed guests include Susie Morgenstern (U.S.), Maria Nilsson Thore (Sweden), Marita Conlon McKenna (Ireland), Lotta Olsson (Sweden), Xinxin Zhang and Suzhen Fang (China). The Shanghai VIP Program, on the other hand, will offer a select number of foreign publishers the opportunity to gain insights into China’s children’s market through site visits and meetings with Shanghai Children and Juvenile Publishing House, Poplar Bookstore and Shanghai Dandelion Children’s Library. The VIP guests include editors-in-chief Julia Schwarcz (of Companhia das Letrinhas, Brazil), Ann Skolden (Raben, Sweden), Clara Huffman (Pipala, Argentina), Jennifer Tyler (Usborne, U.K.) and Francisco Delgado (Barbara Fiore, U.K.).

Then there is the CCBF Golden Pinwheel Awards for the best Chinese original children’s book and the best international picture book. Both categories will have two awards—the jury and the readers’ choice prizes. Local and overseas children’s authors and illustrators, children’s literature critics, early childhood education experts, publishers, top-level professionals and the public will decide on the winners for each category.

For more information on CCBF, click here.