Conferences, Book Festivals, and Award Celebrations Move Online, Offering New Opportunities

Many of the education and publishing events scheduled for the rest of  the year have moved online, allowing those who couldn't attend in the past a chance to experience the programs.


The necessary pivot to online everything has been disappointing, as often virtual events fall short of in-person experiences. But, in some cases, the virtual option is making it possible for a larger audience to view or participate in events that normally require prohibitively costly travel, as well as taking days off.

From book festivals to education conferences to awards ceremonies, here are just some of the 2020 events that have moved online.


National History Day

Online now

Winners of the annual project-based contest for grades 6–12 did not get to celebrate their achievements in person, but we can all be wowed by their accomplishments this year. Instead of the typical list of winners provided online, NHD created a Virtual Showcase that allows visitors to see every #NHD2020 project submitted in all five categories: papers, documentaries, performances, exhibits, and websites. A list of winners and the virtual awards ceremony can be viewed as well.


Society of Children’s Book Writers and ­Illustrators Summer Conference

July 31–August 4

This year, the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) summer conference is the SCBWI Summer Online Spectacular, and it arrives on your computer screen with a packed lineup of the biggest names in children’s literature. Kwame Alexander, Dan Santat, Laurie Halse Anderson, Meg Medina, Judy Blume, Jeff Kinney, Grace Lin, Jason Reynolds, and Nic Stone are just some of the creators on the schedule. There will also be an editors panel, an agents panel, an ­online portfolio showcase, and the ­ability to receive consultation on a manuscript or portfolio. Registration is now open.


Library of Congress National Book Festival

September 25–27

Attending this free annual event typically requires a trip to Washington, DC. This year, it is being reimagined in a virtual format. While the usual book signings obviously won’t be possible, organizers hope the author talks and panel discussions will allow participants to celebrate this year’s theme, “American Ingenuity.” The original lineup included Madeleine Albright, John Grisham, Joy Harjo, Colson Whitehead, Kate DiCamillo, and Jason Reynolds. Details for the restructured event will be posted on the website as they become available.


Maker Ed Convening

October 2–3

The sixth annual Maker Educator Con­­­­vening will be entirely online. With the theme “Making It Happen: Equity and Joy,” organizers are planning for three hours of live content each day, including keynotes and a variety of workshops. The schedule and sessions will be announced at the end of August.


School Library Journal Virtual Summit

October 24

SLJ staff is planning an all-day online program, connecting librarians through networking opportunities and providing information and inspiration that can be put into practice. Stay tuned for details.


National Book Awards

November 18

In past years, the ceremony and events leading up to it have been live-streamed, so virtual access of this awards show to readers is not new. However, with the loss of all in-person events in what is typically known as National Book Awards week, the National Book Foundation will now spread out the schedule through October and November.

The 5 Under 35, which recognizes emerging fiction writers, will take place Tuesday, October 20. The National Book Awards Finalist Reading, featuring readings from all 25 finalists’ books, will be on Tuesday, November 10. And the Teen Press Conference will stream live on Monday, November 16, two days before the winners are announced.

The longlist is still expected to be announced in mid-September, with finalists revealed in October.


National Council of Teachers of English Conference

November 19–22

Even if the NCTE wanted to keep its event in-person, it lost its venue when the governor of Colorado said the convention center would remain an emergency hospital facility through the end of the calendar year.

With that, the organization is working on a virtual experience with the typical lineup of speakers including educators, authors, and publishers, as well as workshops, an exhibit hall, and the ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) award celebration. A detailed schedule and registration information are ­available on the website.

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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