(credit: David Buchan/Getty Images)
Have you ever noticed that special smell that a bookstore has? Bookstores and independent sellers are magic. Some fear that we almost lost them, others fear we still could. Let’s shine a light on the independent bookstore owner, in particular, those who make a point of fostering children’s love of reading. It is the perfect investment and it is never too soon to begin. And as with all great investments, the recipient will only become richer as the years go by. Here are the best children’s bookstores in the North Bay.
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
If you’ve been around the Bay Area since 1976 or earlier, you already know that the two locations of this independent bookseller live up to their reputation as the liveliest of bookstores. Many parents come here to introduce children to the social and community aspects of a fine local bookstore so they can take that love with them as they grow. Drawing on the wealth of local talent, including local under-18 budding talent, Book Passage hosts writing classes, book and author talks, poetry readings, interactive sessions with writers, cooks with books, sing-alongs and appearances by real celebrities, which are ultra-cool for teens and pre-teens.
138 N. Main St.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
It’s not possible to discuss bookstores in the North Bay without shining a light on the success of this group, now spreading the love in seven North Bay towns. With a reputation for “creating vibrant gathering places which offer cozy surroundings for book lovers,” it all started when owners Paul Jaffe and Barney Brown opened in a 725-square-foot space in Sebastopol in 1981. Copperfield’s is so dedicated to children’s reading that it has its own book buyer for kids. Check out the 2014 award winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Medals for some inspiration.
87 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
How could anyone beat a bookstore housed in an old train depot? Grownups can enjoy a coffee while browsing an international magazine at the sunny sidewalk patio while the younger set heads for the kids’ book section. The bookstore isn’t the biggest and the kitchen may not be outstanding, but all in all, it ticks a good number of boxes on a lazy, sunny day if you do manage to find a parking space in downtown Mill Valley.
130 E. Napa St.
Sonoma, CA 95476
Half a block off the southeast side of pretty Sonoma Plaza, Andy and Lilla run a small bookstore for all ages. Locals speak of growing up, visiting the store with grandma, and coming back these days with children of their own. If you’re in Sonoma, stop in to browse and introduce the kids to the special atmosphere of a small, family-run book shop. Check out the children’s literature, contemporary and classic fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, thrillers, mysteries, magazines and more. The back patio is perfect for the weekly events, so see what’s on the schedule if you’re local.
964 Pearl St.
Napa, CA 94559
Two special features are worth noting about the operation at this independent bookstore. Because 98 percent of the stock is used, purchases are 10 percent or more below retail retail. And, members can trade books in for credit once they have turned that last page. The big green Augie the Reading Stegosaurus welcomes kids to the children’s section, which is good and growing, and hosting events as well. Say hello to the new owners who opened in autumn of 2013 with local support via an Indiegogo campaign and hear more about how they are making the space into a community hub.
Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.