Books!  You can lose yourself in a wonderful book.  Learn about faraway places and times gone by.  You can explore, create, learn, make new friends and discover more about who you are and what you want to be.  It’s also something parents and kids can agree on – for while no parent relishes another game of Subway Surfers or Candy Crush, who can say no to another book? And while reading on our Kindles, ipads, nooks and phones is fun and handy, nothing beats browsing in an old fashioned bookstore. Whether you take your kids to a bookstore to get lost in the stories on the shelves, attend an inspiring storytime or buy an armful of books to enjoy at home, babies, toddlers and big kids will all benefit from a visit to these fantastic L.A. area bookstores.

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Books and Cookies in Santa Monica
This gem of a bookstore in Santa Monica boasts exactly what the name promises – books and cookies – and so much more.  The store has three main spaces:  a bookstore and interactive reading room, a bakery/kids cafe where healthy, freshly baked good are whipped up daily, and an events and activity space. It’s the ultimate destination for unplugging where tots and parents will love lounging in comfy nooks and cuddling up with a great book. Books and Cookies has classics and contemporary reads for babies to tweens, daily activities (like themed story times, arts and crafts, music classes and baby sign language) and also concerts and events just for kids.

2230 Main St., Santa Monica
Hours: Monday – Saturday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm.
Online: booksandcookiesla.com

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Children’s Book World in West LA
Over 80,000 book titles for children are just waiting to be cracked open at Children’s Book World in West Los Angeles. Also on the shelves are an abundance of audio books, DVDs, music and educational aids, as well as a growing number of multicultural books. Children’s Book World also features a Saturday morning series, Saturdays at 10:30 am where storytellers, authors, musical performers and entertainers open the world of books by presenting interactive fun for kids and families. You may also bring in your new and gently used books to be passed along at their children’s book recycling center, which donates books to literacy programs that work with needy children in Southern California.

10580 1/2 West Pico Blvd., West LA
Hours: Monday – Friday from 10:00 am – 5:30 pm and Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Online: childrensbookworld.com

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Once Upon a Time in Montrose
This is the classic mom and pop bookstore you remember as a kid.  It’s the one around the corner, where the owners have read all the books and will help you find a new favorite.  It’s just part of the landscape and you take it for granted – but you shouldn’t because these small, family owned independent bookstores are a dying breed.  Meanwhile- enjoy!  Come to browse (they won’t mind that your kids can’t keep their fingers to themselves – books are for touching!), come for storytime or an author event, come to discover.  And stay because you’ll be entranced by books you forgot from your own childhood, and new ones your little ones is finding for herself.

2207 Honolulu Ave., Montrose
Hours: Sunday & Monday open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Tuesday- Saturday open 10:00 am – 8:00 pm.
Online: shoponceuponatime.com

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Skylight Books in Los Feliz
A cat prowls the store, a tree grows in the middle, and skylights letting in the dapples sunshine complete the atmosphere.  And it’s all lovely, but it’s not why you’re here.  You’re here for the kid section, which is solid, if small, but always highlights the coolest new books you haven’t heard of (yet – they’ll hit Amazon’s newsletter in a few months, if ever).  Vintage re-issues, imports from other countries and cultures, and just hip and funny gems – you’ll find them all here.  Worth a visit, even if you’re not local, because there’s loads to explore in Los Feliz.

1818 N Vermont Ave., Los Feliz
Hours: Daily from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm.
Online: skylightbooks.com

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Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena
Vroman’s is a historical literary landmark. Founded in Pasadena in 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman, this family owned business is the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California. In addition to a large children’s section, Vroman’s also hosts parent/child book clubs and storytimes. (And cool displays, like the Banned Books one, above.) They also recently added a kids clothing section next to their children’s book department that features hip, chic labels, so you can double your pleasure and your errands by shopping for books and clothes at the same time.  Be sure to check out Vroman’s second Hastings Ranch location, which also has book events, activities and storytimes for kids.

695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
Hours: Monday – Thursday from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Friday & Saturday from 9:00 am – 10:00 pm and Sunday from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm.
Online: vromansbookstore.com

Storyopolis in Encino
More than a bookstore, Storyopolis in Encino is an art gallery which displays the finest storybook illustration and editorial art   It’s a treat for kids to wander a gallery and see art – art that they love and know. Because for many kids, the pictures are what first make them fall in love with a book. If you’re looking for the perfect present for a budding bookworm, Storyopolis is famous for their phenomenal book gift baskets, which have been purchased by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Seinfeld.

16740 Ventura Blvd., Encino
Hours: Monday – Saturday from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Online: storyopolis.com/index.php

What are your favorite bookstores for kids in Los Angeles?

– Beth Shea

Photo credits: Sara Ring, Meghan Rose, Once Upon a Time Bookstore, mind on fire via Creative Commons and Books and Cookies via facebook