Whether it's online or in person, you can find the best children's bookstore to suit you and your child's needs. Bookstore preferences differ from person to person, so to actually determine which one is the tops, depends on what you want in a quality shop.
Children's Bookstores: A Dying Breed
The movie You've Got Mail comes to mind when understanding the reality that children's bookstores aren't as popular as they once were. In the film, the Mom and Pop children's bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, was forced out of business by the huge conglomerate bookstore, Fox Books, which opened up across the street. The larger store had more books, longer stores hours, but lacked the personality and ambiance of the smaller bookstore.
In real life, the closing of children's bookstores are happening more often. In 2007, A Likely Story Children's Bookstore in Alexandria, Virginia, suddenly closed its doors after 23 years in business. The number of these specialty shops has declined from more than 750 in the 1990s to less than 200 today. Many of the ones that haven't closed have either merged with other companies or changed their product mixes to include items other than children's books. Reasons for this decline includes:
- Dwindling economy
- Lack of interest in Mom and Pop stores
- Larger selection available at chain bookstores
- More people are buying online
- Books are cheaper at wholesale or retail stores
What to Look for in a Children's Bookstore
Despite the lack of shops locally, you still may be able to find the best children's bookstore for you and your child. The key is knowing what you want. A quality children's bookstore should have:
- A childlike and pleasant atmosphere
- A staff who knows about children's books
- All genres and types of children's books
- Hours that are convenient for a working parent
- New releases as well as classic fairy tales on the shelves
- A place where you know your child is safe if he or she wants to sit and look at a book
The Best Children's Bookstores
While there isn't one "best" children's bookstore listed, you will find many that offer what you may want from a retailer.
Nationally and Online
- Barnes & Noble really does have a good children's book section within its national chain store. Children are free to sit and read and look around at the toys, DVDs and CDs available. Many also have story hours once or twice a week for children and their families.
- Amazon.com is an online store only, but you will be sure to find almost exactly, what you need in a children's book. A simple search will more than guarantee you many returns on your favorite children's story.
The following bookstores have been chosen locally as the best children's bookstores in their respective communities:
- In Los Angeles, California, Children's Book World was named number one in its category by Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. Weekly and L.A. Parent Magazine. The store offers 80,000 different titles from which to choose, as well as a Storytelling Series and a Book Recycling Center.
- In New York City, New York, Books of Wonder has what it considers the best in new and classic children's books. Time Out New York names this bookstore the best in New York City. Various children's activities are held weekly and you can even order books online.
- In Chicago, Illinois, the Magic Tree Bookstore has been delighting children with its book and activities for more than 25 years. Open daily, this store has many special events and also offers music, accessories and foreign language books for sale. Many of these items are available to buy online.
Do you have a favorite bookstore that you consider the best of its kind? Leave a note about it in the comment section below.