We are in a golden age of children’s literature, and this love is felt most intensely in children’s bookstores—many of which are so special and imaginative that you could plan a whole family vacation around them.

If anyone can keep your kids busy for a few hours, it’s a passionate (and patient) children’s bookseller. If you want to explore some of these magical shops, here are some of the most interesting kids' bookstores in the USA

A literary lighthouse in Michigan

Kids don’t just love stories at Storybook Village in Pentwater, Michigan, they become parts of them as characters and creators. Reading nooks abound, from the Fish House to the Reading Gazebo, and like a portal into another realm, a lighthouse doorway leads readers from the bookstore into the Starlight Theater Room and its wall-to-wall mural of sky and sea. Activities are seemingly endless, with puppet shows and theater productions, plus art and creative writing workshops. The book selection focuses on some specialty publishers, so don’t come with a specific book in mind. Rather, let the knowledgeable booksellers (the owner is a former teacher) pick something perfect for you.

man reads to three children in a bookstore
It's always storytime at Read With Me in Raleigh © Read With Me

Share literary love in Raleigh

Curl up with a great book in the window seat of Read With Me Books and Art, located in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, at a walkable distance from the Marbles Kids Museum. This is a place to share your love of reading with young ones—and where art is a crucial part of that storytelling process. While originally just a children's bookstore, the shop added an adult book corner during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Let the wild rumpus start in Minneapolis

Do you remember what it’s like to read a book as a child? It feels a lot like walking into Wild Rumpus in south Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more than 25 years, this dreamy bookshop has blurred the lines between indoors and outdoors—and between reality and the storytelling world. A canoe cruises through the waters of the ceiling, and readers pass through a tree house-inspired passageway as they move to the back of the store. It’s also officially a pet shop that only sells books, as they have a pet store license for their animal menagerie, which includes cats, chinchillas, a cockatiel, and more. 

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two children and an adult paint a green, blue and red mural of a dragon on the outer wall of a bookstore in Denver
Children help paint the colorful backyard mural at Second Star on the Right in Denver © Second Star on the Right

Straight on till reading in Denver

Second Star to the Right in Denver, Colorado, will feel like home, where kids are free to explore to their heart’s delight. Handmade stars shine down from a glittery ceiling, and secret alcoves allow young readers to curl up and dig into a good story. The shop  hosts plenty of events, including storytimes at 10am from Monday to Saturday, though numbers are limited. However, there are also virtual storytimes, including Instagram read-alouds, so all can join. 

Read more: Best things to do in Denver with kids

Get lost in Los Angeles

For more than 30 years, the award-winning Children’s Book World in West Los Angeles has boasted a selection of more than 80,000 titles. You could spend hours here and while you’re reading good books, you’re also doing good work: through their nonprofit Children’s Book Recycling Program, the bookstore collects and donates gently used books to low-income schools and programs.

Read more: Exploring Los Angeles with kids

Features - treehouse_storefront-copy-d38705427671
TreeHouse Books in Ashland, Oregon, has been a community stalwart since 1978 © Tree House Books

Find the magic in Oregon

TreeHouse Books in quaint Ashland, Oregon, is the fairy ring of bookstores. With its window display of miniature worlds and an unique selection of gifts and books, this may seem like a quirky, lovable little shop, but there’s something especially enchanting about it—just maybe, magic is real here. Each genre or reading level is an entrance to a different ‘land,’ and readers will discover a Wizard Apothecary, a Secret World Vault and more. 

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This article was first published Apr 26, 2018 and updated Nov 24, 2021.

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