Good news: the independent bookstore is alive and well—and they’ve got lots of kid-friendly extras to keep you coming back for more. Check out our guide to the best indie bookstores in every single state (plus D.C.) that’ll keep you stocked up on kids books for the foreseeable future. With inventive story times, author events and even in-store cafes, chances are you’ll find your go-to hangout spot on this list.
1. Alabama: Church Street Coffee and Books
This spot isn't just a bookstore, but we have it on our list because, well, cookies. First and foremost a bakery and cafe, this neighborhood gem serves fresh baked cookies and pastries and offers a small selection of kids and adult books for customers to peruse (or buy) while they're noshing on the snacks.
81 Church St.
Mountain Brook, AL
2. Alaska: Title Wave Books
This is Alaska's biggest independent bookstore, and it's got aisles and aisles of used as well as new books, including a whole section devoted to Alaskan literature. Whether your little is looking for her favorite Harry Potter book or something from generations past, this is where she'll find it. One Yelper even wrote that "If they don't have it here, they probably don't have it in Alaska." The store also accepts trade-ins for store credit so you can recycle all those books your kid has outgrown.
1360 W. Northern Lights Blvd.
Honorable mention: Barnes & Noble Anchorage, which has the expected slew of books, a yummy cafe and weekly story times for kids.
3. Arizona: Changing Hands
This small chain (there's a Tempe and a Phoenix location) was founded in 1974 with a vision for a "socially responsible bookstore and community gathering place," and while it has changed locations over the years, it is still both a bookstore and a gathering place. Kids will love the play areas and the assortment of toys dotting the huge book space; grown-ups will love that the adjacent bar (at the Phoenix location) allows them to browse the aisles with a glass of wine in hand. Check the calendar for weekly story times (there are separate baby and family story times!), author events, workshops and teen programs.
300 W. Camelback Rd., Ste. 1
4. Arkansas: River Market Books
River Market Books is part of the Central Arkansas Library System and features three whopping floors of books, almost all donated by library patrons. Since most of the books are secondhand (there are some new books), the prices are low and all proceeds go toward the library. There's also a cafe where hungry little readers can stock up on snacks.
120 River Market Ave.
Little Rock, AR
5. California: Hicklebee's
This sprawling, well-stocked bookstore is totally worth a visit. With a jam-packed schedule of author events, trivia nights, story times and book clubs, you and your crew will be happy to come back for repeat visits. (Pro tip: they offer free gift wrapping if you're in a pinch!)
1378 Lincoln Ave.
San Jose, CA
6. Colorado: Second Star to the Right
This adorable little bookstore features a selection of toys and books (new and used) as well as a diverse array of activities including drop-off events, tea parties, yoga classes, family play groups and a daily story time. This summer, they're holding a Silly Summer of Stories reading challenge perfect for your budding bookworms.
4353 Tennyson St.
7. Connecticut: RJ Julia
This 27-year-old bookstore hosts costumed story times (Psst: The Cat in the Hat has been spotted here!), yoga classes and author events. Kids will want to chow down on the cafe's award-winning cupcakes; grown-ups will want to snag a cozy spot by the window in the children's section to read a classic to their little ones.
768 Boston Post Rd.
8. Delaware: Bethany Beach Books
Located a few steps from the boardwalk, this sunny and well-stocked shop is the only independent bookstore in the area and hosts weekly story times with arts and crafts as well as frequent author events.
99 Garfield Pkwy
Bethany Beach, DE
9. Florida: The Book Loft
A creaky two-story shop located on Amelia Island off the coast of North Florida, The Book Loft is as quaint as a Grandma's beach house, with tons of quiet nooks and chairs for reading and a train table for antsy toddlers. Check the calendar for bi-weekly story times, classes and author events.
214 Centre St.
Fernandina Beach, FL
Honorable mention: Books & Books, a regional chain, has a great selection of kids books, cozy seating, and yummy kid staples in their cafe.
10. Georgia: Little Shop of Stories
This whimsically designed bookstore has all sorts of architectural nods to classic kid lit, including a replica green room from Goodnight Moon and a "9 3/4 platform" (with a secret door!) modeled after the mystical portal in Harry Potter. The bookstore also hosts fantastic camps, including a Magic Treehouse summer camp that transforms the second floor of the store into a magical time machine that whisks campers into historic worlds filled with mummies, ninjas, cowboys, and magic.
133 E. Court Sq.
11. Hawaii: Basically Books
This Hilo-based bookstore opened in 1985 and—in addition to one of the most beautiful locations in the US—has it all: books, maps, gifts and huge Hawaiian music selection, but you’re going to want to hang out in the children’s section to explore the books, toys and puppets. Let the kiddos get lost in some local ore while you scope out other bath and body and craft projects made in Hawaii. You’ll also find special events like author signings, local musicians and more.
1672 Kamehameha Ave.
12. Idaho: Iconoclast Books
With the gorgeous Bald Mountain range visible in the distance, this sprawling independent bookstore has a huge selection of books for kids and adults and is a veritable institution in Sun Valley. Kids will want to say hi to Barkley the store dog when they stop by, and once inside, there's a great kids section and a yummy cafe that serves drinks, snacks, and light meals.
111 N. First Ave., Unit G
13. Illinois: The Book Cellar
Parents can sip a glass of wine from the cafe while kids curl up with a book at this well-stocked store located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. Bookworms will find a good selection of titles for both adults and kids as well as weekly story times, author events and book signings.
4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.
Honorable mention: The Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, IL, a colorful little kids' spot with an actual hulking tree inside the store.
14. Indiana: Kids Ink
Founded by a former teacher and librarian, Kids Ink packs a lot of pages into its relatively small space. Little ones will love the fantastically curated selection of books, as well as games, puzzles and toys, some of which they can even play with in the store. The store holds story times for ages two to five as well as author visits.
5619 N. Illinois St.
15. Iowa: Beaverdale Books
A cozy neighborhood feel and friendly service is what you can expect at this small independent bookstore that holds frequent story times, author events and signings.
2629 Beaver Ave., Ste. S1
Des Moines, IA
16. Kansas: Blue Baboon Books
Renting out real estate for a bookstore is expensive, so when Kansas resident Sara Ornelas set out to open one, she figured out a way to do it at a fraction of the cost: She opened Blue Baboon Books, a full-service bookstore inside a 7-by-16-foot trailer. The mobile store did so well that Ornelas was able to open a brick-and-mortar location, which holds story times, craft events, day camps and tea parties.
9428 W. Central
17. Kentucky: Blue Marble Books
Don't just read a story—step inside one! Kids familiar with Margaret Wise Brown's classic Goodnight Moon will be delighted to cozy up with a book inside this store's Great Green Room, a perfect replica of that iconic bedroom where that "quiet old lady was whispering hush." Browse the more than 30,000 titles in stock as well as a selection of educational games, toys and puzzles, activity kits, and parenting and teacher reference books. Tip for teachers: Educators get a 20 percent discount on school purchases (plus a 10 percent discount on personal ones)!
1356 S. Fort Thomas Ave.
Fort Thomas, KY
18. Louisiana: The French Library
Parlez-vous français? If you want your kids to know a little about the language of love, this pristine shop in Uptown New Orleans has tons of French language editions of classic kids books (there are plenty of books in English, too). The store also has weekly story times as well as unique offerings such as movie nights and French immersion classes. If that's not enough, mom and dad can always grab a café au lait from the upstairs cafe. C'est magnifique!
3811 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA
19. Maine: Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shops
This place calls itself Maine's oldest bookstore, but it's more than just a place for pages; it's also a killer souvenir shop. Consequently, you can bet that after (or before) your kids find their favorite book, they'll be dragging you to the downstairs toy aisle to buy a little something more. Whether you're looking for postcards, home decor, Maine mementos or just a good book—you'll find it here.
5 Commercial St.
Boothbay Harbor, ME
20. Maryland: The Maryland Book Bank
There are no frills to this book "store" (which isn't really a store), but parents will love the fact that all the titles at the Maryland Book Bank are absolutely free! A nonprofit organization that distributes more than 150,000 books to children, teachers, schools and organizations throughout the year, the Book Bank opens its doors several times a week to let people browse its selection of baby, kids and young adult books. Non-members can take up to 25 books, once a month; members can take up to 125, twice a month. Of course, donations (of books or money) are always appreciated.
1794 Union Ave.
Online: mdbookbank.org (check the website for open-to-the-public hours)
Honorable mention: The Children's Bookstore in Roland Park is a colorful, cheery shop with kids books stacked to the ceiling, cozy reading chairs, and a fun selection of stuffed animals.
21. Massachusetts: An Unlikely Story
Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid absolutely must stop into this Boston suburbs bookshop, a gem of a store that is owned by Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney himself. Rumor has it, Kinney (who also has an office on the third floor of the store) occasionally works the cash register, so anyone hoping for an autographed copy might want to keep an eye out. As for the books, it's a bonafide arsenal of titles, with a huge selection for both adults and kids, plus an in-store cafe that serves snacks and coffee as well as wine and beer. Make sure to look up while you're there, or you'll miss the flock of flying books and broomsticks floating from the ceiling.
Psst: Have your kids keep their eyes peeled for tiny chalkboards hidden behind secret panels throughout the store; a New York Times story about the shop said that the author hid them so that kids would find them and write secret messages or discover doodles Kinney intentionally left behind.
111 South St.
Honorable mention: Nantucket Bookworks, which is owned by Barnaby Bears author Wendy Rouillard, has a great kids section and dedicated kids cafe with healthy snacks and treats. You can even make a reservation and drop off the kids there while you shop!
22. Michigan: Storybook Village
This magical shop has all the perfect touches to whisk children's imaginations wherever a story may take them. Kids will love walking through the lighthouse door to reach the Starlight Theatre Room, the place where story time happens throughout the day with a golden puppet castle, a pirate ship, and walls painted in the likeness of the air, sea, and space. Kids will love exploring secret spots hidden throughout the store, including secret passageways and a hidden book cranny where kids can tuck themselves away to read.
560 S. Hancock St.
Pentwater, Michigan, MI
23. Minnesota: Wild Rumpus
Kids can enter Wild Rumpus through a tiny door just right for them. Once inside, the books will keep them captivated, as will the shop's friendly menagerie of critters which includes a trio of kitties, two chinchillas, two rats, three birds, a ferret, and a (very contained) tarantula. Besides regular story times and author signings, the store—which was named Publisher's Weekly's bookstore of the year for 2017—also has a sensory-friendly story time, which keeps things low-key for kids who don't like big crowds or noisy spaces.
2720 W. 43rd St.
24. Mississippi: Lemuria Books
With several sunny rooms full of books stacked up to the ceiling, this Mississippi literary mainstay is well-loved by Mississippi bookworms as well as traveling authors who frequently stop in for signings (the store reportedly has a remarkable collection of signed first-edition John Grisham books). The devoted kids section is a room unto itself with a huge selection for littles of all ages. Potter-heads will love the store's Harry Potter Trivia Night, which is free for kids under 10.
202 Banner Hall
4465 I-55 N.
25. Missouri: The Book House
Located in a historic Victorian house in Maplewood (about 15 minutes east of St. Louis) built in 1863, the Book House has been selling new, used and rare books for more than 25 years. Be prepared to get a little lost: This place has more than 350,000 books spread across its two floors of shelves, and little bookworms will love wandering around to find something new and exciting. The store hosts all sorts of events including book signings, live music, poetry readings and story times.
26. Montana: The Book Exchange
Grab a book from the vast selection (of adults and kids books) and sit down in the cafe to enjoy some snacks along with a panoramic view of the Rockies. The Book Exchange offers new and used books and has been voted "Best Bookstore in Missoula" for 29 years in a row. Kids will love the little reading corner in the kids' section where they can plop down on the floor next to a stuffed Clifford the Big Red Dog and start reading.
Tremper's Shopping Center
2335 Brooks St.
27. Nebraska: The Bookworm
Not only will your kids enjoy the huge selection (they have books for all ages) and weekly story times at this 30-year-old Omaha bookstore, but your pets might have a nice time, too! Dogs on leash are welcome here—and the store also hosts frequent adoption events, along with story times and book clubs.
2501 S. 90th St., Ste. 111
28. Nevada: Sundance Books and Music
This sprawling store sits inside an old Victorian house that looks, on the outside, far too formal to be a bookstore. Kids will love exploring the rooms and halls of this historic home (which is leased to the bookstore by the Nevada Museum of Art), with the rooms themselves acting as dividers between genres for both kids and adults (there's music, too). Kids will want to take a selfie with the purple dragon at the top of the stairs, then stay for story time.
121 California Ave.
29. New Hampshire: Treetop Bookshop
Kids will love snuggling up next to the cozy indoor tree for the near-daily story times at this cozy bookstore. Founded by a former nursery school teacher and mommy-of-three, the shop hosts story times Tuesdays through Saturdays, with each story followed by games related to the chosen tale (all totally free!). Besides the vast collection of books, the store also sells plush toys and a selection of puzzles and games.
34 Church St.
30. New Jersey: The Curious Reader
This colorful, sunny shop arranges all its books by reading level so that parents can easily find a book that won't make their little readers stumble. There's also a good selection of board books as well as some toys and stuffed animals. The store occasionally hosts special events like author signings.
229 Rock Rd.
Glen Rock, NJ
Honorable mention: Symposia Bookstore in Hoboken, a well-loved space that is both a used bookstore (for kids and adults) and a community center that hosts puppet shows, story times and other community-run events throughout the month.
31. New Mexico: Bee Hive Kid's Books
Bee Hive Kid's Books is New Mexico's only kids' bookstore, and it's perfectly housed in a small Santa Fe Adobe that is as bright and sunny as the neighborhood. With shelves stacked up to the ceiling, the shop hosts all sorts of fun events including musical story times (check out this one with a storyteller/fiddler duo!) as well as traditional family story times and grown-ups-only book clubs.
328 Montezuma Ave.
Santa Fe, NM
32. New York: Books of Wonder
As New York City's only independent bookstore for kids, Books of Wonder has a lot going on for littles inside its spacious Flatiron Manhattan digs. Besides its plethora of books for kids of all ages (including a whole wall of board books alone!), there's also a creative corner featuring art based on children's literature, and an attached cafe with kid-sized tables and chairs. The store also hosts story times on Saturdays and Sundays.
Psst: If this place looks familiar, you may have seen it in the movies: Books of Wonder was the model for the set-designed shop where Meg Ryan worked in the 1998 film, "You've Got Mail." The actress even worked at the Manhattan store for a day to prepare for her role in the movie.
18 West 18th St. and 217 West 84th St.
New York, NY
Honorable mention: Stories Bookshop and Storytelling Lab, a Brooklyn bookstore which not only sells a great collection of kids books; it also teaches kids how to write great stories. The Storytelling Lab hosts writing workshops and classes for kids ages six to nine (there's even a parent-and-me story & art class for kids ages two to five).
33. North Carolina: Read With Me
This brand new bookstore (it opened in April) is perfectly located just down the street from the Marbles Kids Museum, and it's definitely worth a stop. Founded by a former librarian, the store's vast collection of kids books are arranged by height, with books for the youngest readers found closest to the ground and books for young adults on the top shelf (which makes us wonder why all stores don't do it that way!). Parents looking for a place to take their book-loving littles can take advantage of the story times held three times a week plus various craft activities throughout the month. There's also a summer camp as well as year-round writing and cartooning workshops for kids.
111 E. Hargett St., #110
34. North Dakota: Nature's Nook Children's Toys and Books
First of all, this place has "Toys" in its name, so you definitely won't be twisting any arms to get your kids through the doors. Once inside, your kids will be quick to find something to take home (though we can't promise it will be a book). Nature Nook's mission statement is to "help more families unplug and play." Consequently, it fills its space with a range of quality toys, games and books that whole families can enjoy together. The store also holds a variety of events for kids and parents alike, including friendship bracelet-making classes and DIY dinosaur figurine-making classes.
1700 21st Ave. NW, Ste. B
35. Ohio: Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore
Kids can cozy up in an armchair inside the faux living room at this Cincinnati bookstore that offers daily story times (including foreign language story times on Saturday mornings), author signings, and craft events for kids of all ages. A quick look at the store's calendar and it's clear that this place is as much a beloved kid-and-parent destination as it is just a place to buy books. Of course, if you are there for the books, there are plenty to choose from, with the selection ranging from babies to teens, as well as some books for grown-ups.
3094 Madison Rd.
36. Oklahoma: Full Circle Bookstore
The largest independent bookstore in Oklahoma, Full Circle's collection is so floor-to-ceiling big that customers need ladders (which are set up throughout the store) to reach some of the books on the shelves. Of course, kids will have a blast with this proposition, and with a little supervision, we say let them climb! Story times are held every Saturday, as is live music on Saturday evenings. Hungry? The attached Garden Cafe sells snacks and light meals as well as wine and beer for thirsty moms and dads.
1900 Northwest Expy.
Oklahoma City, OK
37. Oregon: Powell's
Calling itself a "city of books," Powell's occupies an entire city block and boasts approximately one million books, both new and old, in stock (it's reportedly the largest new and used bookstore in the world). Consequently, its children's book section is big enough that your kids definitely won't go home empty-handed.
Honorable mention: Green Bean Books, a Portland-area kids bookstore with a wide selection of books. Story time is held several times a week plus special events including a Drag Queen story time and monthly "Read to a Dog" events.
38. Pennsylvania: Let's Play Books
Founded by a book-loving mom who wanted to inspire a new generation of readers, Let's Play Books is a warm and welcoming shop that holds frequent events and story times for children. Besides the huge selection of books, kids will love sneaking a cuddle with the in-house cats, Garfield and Bernie (check out their Instagram pages!). And, with three floors of space, there are a multitude of spots to sit down and read, plus tables for chess, puzzles and drawing.
244 Main St.
39. Rhode Island: Barrington Books Retold
The second store in the lineup for Barrington Books, this new and spacious bookstore will draw kids in the moment they see the real live car sitting inside the front door (it's a vintage Citroën). Once inside, they might marvel at the chandelier made from sheets of calligraphy, tinker with the toys and games for sale by the shelves, or head toward the life-sized "Giving Tree" that welcomes little readers into the children's section (and where kids gather for story times).
176 Hillside Rd.
40. South Carolina: The Storybook Shoppe
A bright and colorful spot with two cozy rooms packed full of books (about 5,000 titles in just 450 square feet!), this Low Country shop sells a variety of books for kids of all ages and hosts a story hour every Monday morning as well as special events throughout the year. The owner, a mom and former teacher, hand-picks every book herself and makes sure that the entire inventory is filled with either award-winning books or new and old classics highly regarded by children's literature experts.
41 Calhoun St. #A
41. South Dakota: Child's Play Toys
This downtown Sioux Falls toy store has a nice selection of classic kids books and activity books for parents who are looking for something satisfy their book-loving littles. Once inside, kids will love browsing wide array of stuff, including clothing, toys, puzzles and games.
233 S. Phillips Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD
Honorable mention: The behemoth Barnes & Noble Sioux Falls is the best spot for kids and grown-ups looking for a huge selection of books (and CDs, DVDs, and toys—plus a cafe). It also hosts free weekly story times with arts and crafts.
42. Tennessee: Parnassus Books
Kids will love finding the secret entrance (a tiny white doorway!) to the children's section of this beloved all-ages bookstore, which was co-founded by novelist Ann Patchett after Nashville lost its only two in-town bookstores. Story time is held every Thursday and Saturday, and there are numerous author events throughout the month.
3900 Hillsboro Pike Ste. 14
Honorable mention: The Brentwood Tennessee Children's Library isn't a bookstore but definitely worth a visit. In fact, we think it may be the coolest library ever. With oversized book props that double as chairs, a massive story tree, and a talking owl that greets you when you walk in, this place is a must-see stop for little readers.
43. Texas: BookPeople
This literary hub has been Texas' leading independent bookstore since 1970 and boasts a diverse children's area with a mini amphitheater and a play space, plus an in-store cafe for bookworms needing something to eat or drink. The store holds specially themed story times three times a week (including a monthly "Petting Zoo Story Time" with live animals!). Fans of Percy Jackson will want to learn about Book People's popular mythology-themed summer camp that brings the books to life all summer long.
603 N. Lamar Blvd.
Honorable mention: Half Price Books' flagship store in Dallas, TX, has a huge expanse of books, a cafe, and a children's section that has free movies and popcorn in the parking lot every Sunday in the summertime.
44. Utah: The King's English Bookshop
Located inside a charming little blue house in Salt Lake City, this quaint bookshop has been around since 1977 and loyalists say it's the staff's passion for books (and for helping customers find the right ones) that keeps customers coming back. Frequent story times, author signings and quirky happenings (like a birthday party for Harry Potter!) are scheduled throughout the month.
1511 S. 1500 E.
Salt Lake City, UT
45. Vermont: The Flying Pig
Co-owned by award-winning children's book author Elizabeth Bluemle, this Shelburne bookshop houses more than 30,000 books (for kids and adults) and holds frequent book signings with local authors.
5247 Shelburne Rd. Ste. 102
46. Virginia: Hooray for Books
This Old Town Alexandria shop specializes in kids books but also offers a full section for grown-ups. Littles will love the twice-a-week story times, frequent children's author visits, and fun special events throughout the month. The store also sells toys and gifts.
1555 King St.
47. Washington: Elliot Bay Book Company
Founded in 1973, this iconic Seattle bookstore holds more than 500 author readings a year and has through the years hosted legions of big names including Haruki Murakami, Joan Didion, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The gigantic, multi-level store has a great children's section, with story times held twice weekly and a young adult book group that meets monthly. There's also a well-stocked cafe that serves enough caffeine and yummies to keep parents and their kids energized for the long haul.
1521 10th Ave.
Honorable mention: Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, WA, which sells a huge selection of new and used books for kids and adults.
48. Washington, D.C.: The Playseum
OK, so the books may not be what the kids remember after their visit to the Playseum. That honor will probably go to the candy bar. Or the pretend supermarket. Or the room with the bunnies. There are more than a dozen themed rooms to explore at this store which the founder calls in this Youtube video "a children's used bookstore designed like a city." When they're done playing (and it could be a few hours), take your budding readers to the book area where they can find a new or used book to take home.
7000 Wisconsin Ave.
49. West Virginia: Taylor Books
This downtown Charleston bookshop has something for everyone, including author events, a fine art gallery (with a full schedule of art classes), board games, and thousands of books from all genres. If that's not enough, there's also a cafe that serves pastries, light meals and drinks (including wine and local microbrews!). The store's Saturday story times offer a snack and craft along with the story.
226 Capitol St.
50. Wisconsin: Rainbow Booksellers for Children
Rainbow Booksellers for Children is only open two days a week* since the store's owners each have full-time jobs elsewhere. But that doesn't stop the place from being Milwaukee's best bookshop for kids (it's actually the only children's bookstore in Milwaukee, but who's counting?!). The store carries a huge selection of books for kids ages 0 to adult—with all of the books offered at 25% off the cover price! There's also a sprinkling of puzzles, games, arts and crafts kits and candy.
*Open Wednesdays and Saturdays.
5704 W. Vliet St.
51. Wyoming: The Knowledge Nook Toys & Books
Settle into an overstuffed chair, grab a book (or a toy!) and spend the afternoon at this one-stop kid shop where your littles can turn some pages, play with LEGO or snuggle up for story time. Besides its book collection, the store also sells a variety of toys including science kits, puppets, Melissa & Doug activity books and other games and gadgets designed to inspire imagination.
4270 S. Poplar St.
— Melissa Heckscher
Feature photo: Visit Flanders via Flickr