Independent bookstores continue to thrive in New York City, which means you don’t have to go very far to find your next page-turner or door-stopper. But some stores do a better job than others when it comes to appealing to the littlest of readers. The six stores listed below not only have a variety of events for young readers, but they also stock books aplenty, from picture books to board books to chapter books. Go forth and browse! By Jessica Allen.
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Affiliated with the prestigious Bank Street College of Education the Bank Street Bookstore helps kids learn, grow and develop a love of reading. The brightly-lit store stocks some 40-odd shelves of picture books, along with row after row of fiction, and the staff goes out of its way to assist budding bibliophiles in finding something creepy, funny, delightful to dig into. The store also offers excellent resources for parents and teachers.
The Upper West Side has not one, but two great bookstores for kids: the aforementioned Bank Street Books and Book Culture on Broadway. No wonder the neighborhood is full of families. Book Culture believes that “reading enriches lives, families, and communities. To us, books and publishing are cultural treasures to be kept in trust by those that recognize the value that they hold.” Amen! The Children’s Room at the Broadway location stocks tons of books (and encourages lots of lingering), along with puzzles, toys and art supplies.
When Books of Wonder opened its doors in 1980, the shop was just 200 square feet. Today the Flatiron location boasts a lot more room—all the better to welcome the legions of kids who’ve sat, squatted, and sprawled on the floor as some of the world’s most famous writers have given readings. The city’s largest and oldest children’s bookstore is a very special place, indeed (and was the inspiration for Meg Ryan’s cute store in You’ve Got Mail). Stop in for weekly story time and regular launch parties, and check out the huge selection of titles for toddlers, tweens, teens, and everyone in between.
Greenlight Bookstore, a lovely little shop in Fort Greene, has a great backstory: in 2007, a former bookseller won the Brooklyn Business Library’s business plan competition. A few months later, she joined forces with another former bookseller, and Greenlight was born. The bookstore is now planning a second location, while continuing to offer the same carefully curated selection, community-minded atmosphere and passionate devotion to the written word as always.
Newly-opened POWERHOUSE on 8th is the South Slope outpost of DUMBO’s beloved POWERHOUSE Arena — a bookstore with a focus on creative, cutting-edge art titles. Its sister store seeks to be a “reading club, mini-gallery, and community space,” with a focus on children’s literature (as well as books for grown-ups.) Stop in for story time on Sunday mornings, featuring authors of popular children’s books. It’s BYOC (Bring Your Own Coffee + Children).
Way back in 1927, when the Strand opened its doors on Fourth Avenue, there were so many other bookstores that the area was nicknamed “Book Row.” These days, the Strand might be the last store standing, but, boy, is it standing strong: it stocks some 2.5 million titles across three floors—indeed, the tagline of this family-run bookstore is “18 miles of books.” The sprawling array for kids (and the young at heart) on the second floor ranges from classics to comics to Americana, with plenty of places to hang out and plenty of aisles to browse and plenty of characters (like Curious George) making regular appearances.