Do your little ones love books? Do you love what books do for your kids, but hate the $18 price tag on a brand-new hardback picture book? Well, fret no more. If you want to build up your home library of children’s books hit one of the new used book emporiums that have recently popped up around the Southland. Even as new bookstores have closed, these used bookshops have flourished, so take advantage of their bargain prices and build up your book stockpile today!

The Last Bookstore, Downtown
This used bookstore is a good reason to make a visit downtown. The store’s sophisticated buyers stock lots of film, art and language books, but you’ll also find a fair helping of children’s books. The well-curated children’s collection on the main floor covers all age ranges and interests and tends to be in excellent condition. If you’re a pure bargain hunter, head up to the loft, where the funkier inventory is all priced at $1!

Why You’ll Love It: The space is as much a steam-punk art exhibit as it is a bookstore, and the location in a refurbished bank is complete with authentic vault and vintage tile floor.

The Last Bookstore
453 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, Ca
213-488-0599
Online: lastbookstorela.com

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BOOKOFF, Torrance
This fantastic chain buys and sells every kind of media you can imagine: DVDs, CDs, video games, manga and yes, books! Of the several SoCal locations, the Torrance store in the Del Amo Fashion Center has the biggest collection of English-language books; other BOOKOFF locations specialize in Japanese-language materials. One side of the children’s book aisle has higher-end hardbacks; most of the $1 books are on the other side and they tend to be paperback storybooks (Scholastic editions, etc.). If you head to this location, park near the JoAnn’s Fabrics storefront for the shortest walk through the mall. Note for bargain-hunters: Don’t forget to sift through the pull-out bins below the shelves for hidden goodies.

Why You’ll Love It: Incredibly clean and well-organized, with great customer service, you’ll barely notice this store is selling used goods.

BOOKOFF Torrance
Del Amo Fashion Center
Lower Level #290
21712 Hawthorne Blvd.
Torrance, Ca
310-214-4800
Online: bookoffusa.com

Piccolo’s Books, Westchester and Long Beach
This chain of used bookstores has taken over former Borders locations and filled them to the brim with used books that are all $1 each. The selection is huge and organization can be chaotic at best, so plan to dedicate a substantial amount of time to your treasure hunting.

Why You’ll Love It: The inventory moves quickly and they’re always restocking, so you’ll find surprises and treats every time you visit. We’ve spotted everything from vintage DeLuxe Golden Books from the 1950s to recent Mo Willems releases.

Piccolo’s Books
Howard Hughes Center
6081 Center Drive
Los Angeles, Ca
310-410-0317

The Pike at Rainbow Harbor
101 S. Pine Ave.
Long Beach, Ca
562-432-2665

Online: piccolosbooks.com

$10 or Less Bookstore, Northridge
This store actually specializes in what are called remaindered books, most of which are priced at closer to $5 than $1. However, they do also offer used books and they do have a selection of $1 titles. The selection is not as vast as at some shops listed here, but the quality of the inventory and the overall charm of the store make up for the limited choice.

Why You’ll Love It: The remaindered inventory offers a great array of gift-quality books. If you’re stocking up for birthday gifts, be sure to include this place on your shopping circuit.

$10 or Less Bookstore
19500 Plummer Street
Northridge, Ca
Online: 10-dollar-bookstore.com

Dollar Book Fair, Cerritos
Most of this chain’s locations are a bit of a drive (the nearest one to us is in Cerritos) but Dollar Book Fair is worth a look if you’re in the vicinity and you want to restock your kid’s bookshelves. Seemingly less atmospheric than some of the other options, Dollar Book Fair is a no-nonsense used bookstore with very reasonable prices.

Dollar Book Fair
239 Los Cerritos Center
Cerritos, Ca
562-924-6800
Online: dollarbookfair.com

Library Book Sales, Multiple Locations
As dedicated book hunters know, library book sales are some of the best ways to develop your own library, all while supporting a good cause. If you’re ready to branch out (pun intended) from your usual locations, register at booksalefinder.com to get a weekly email newsletter listing the locations of upcoming library book sales near your zip code.

Online: booksalefinder.com

Do you have a used bookstore or thrift store where you love to browse the shelves? Where do you like to shop for new children’s books?

(We wholeheartedly recommend Children’s Book World in West Los Angeles and San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe on the Eastside!) Share your faves in the comments!

— Jennifer Arrow

photo credit: photogramma1 via flickr, Lars Plougmann via flickr, and John-Morgan via flickr