Awesome Chicagoland Bookstores to Visit with Kids

Bring your young readers to these independent bookstores.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking into a bookstore. Considered to be true gems of the community, bookstores help foster a love for literacy at an early age. Shop owners and staff are always eager to help budding bookworms find their next great read with book selections for young readers.

Many independent bookstores didn’t survive the pandemic, so it’s more important than ever to show local bookstores some love. Whether it is offering kid-friendly storytimes or cozy nooks for families to read together, here are some bookstores to visit in the Chicago area.

57th Street Books 

Get ready to get lost in the stacks and stacks of this Hyde Park bookstore. Families can spend lots of time browsing through the large children’s book section. It is starting to bring back its in-person events, including inviting authors in to talk about their books. Masks are still being requested.

Abalabix Books

Come into this independent bookstore and meet their dog, George. Your kids will love the cozy and colorful atmosphere here. Be sure to keep an eye out for events happening there each month.

after-words bookstore

This local, independently owned bookstore in downtown Chicago has an extensive selection of new and used books. It has two stories of about 70,000 books. Special events include readings, lectures, book signings and more.

Anderson’s Bookshops

The oldest single family-run book cellar in the country made a name for themselves as the first bookstore to host J.K. Rowling for a Harry Potter reading event. Both locations stock thousands of children’s books and offer ample seating areas for families to read together. It hosts many author book readings and signings and other family-friendly events. Contact-free in-store pickup is still available.

Barbara’s Bookstore

  • Various locations in Chicagoland

With locations in the city and suburbs, Barbara’s Bookstore has the high-quality inventory of a major retailer, but retains the charm of an independently owned community bookstore. The staff is knowledgeable about the latest and greatest reads. In-person events are back and include book signings, speakers and more.

Book Bin

This small independent bookstore hosts many events, including storytimes, book discussions, author talks and more. Make sure to check out the “Best Books for Young Readers” Catalog online.

Booked

From the moment kids enter Booked through their own miniature door, they get excited about the charming, unique and well-designed bookstore. At Booked, literature is grouped by age-appropriate material, which makes it easy to pick out the right items for your little one. Also, offers school and teacher discounts.

Bookends & Beginnings

Located in the heart of downtown Evanston, this independent bookstore has lots of events including storytimes, workshops, author talks, book releases and more. It offers a rewards program where you will receive $5 back for every $100 you spend in the store.

City Lit Books

This independent bookstore is located in the heart of Logan Square. It specializes in contemporary fiction and non-fiction and a richly curated collection of poetry and children’s literature. It hosts many storytimes, musical storytimes, book clubs, author talks, book signings, speakers and more. It’s also dog-friendly!

Exile in Bookville

This independent bookstore is located on the second floor in the Fine Arts Building. The owners believe books and music are synonymous and that is shown in their store. Be sure to check out its Facebook for the in-person and virtual events schedule.

Harvey’s Tales

Families can come to this independent bookshop, which carries new books and has a giant wall Scrabble game, free Wi-Fi, a coffee bar, outdoor patio seating and more. This indie store not only carries books, but also games, toys, candles, puzzles and other literary related items.

Lake Forest Book Store

This 2,550-square-foot store is located in the James Anderson building. It has tons of children’s books, toys, gifts and more. Be sure to check out the Indie books recommend on its website.

Madison Street Books

Madison Street Books is a woman-owned and independent bookstore in Chicago’s West Loop. It only sells new books, but does have a consignment program for authors hoping to sell their books there. It offers events, too.

Roscoe Books

This indie bookstore was started by a mom in 2014 after she had her first child. It has plenty of children’s books. Be sure to follow on Facebook to see “5 for Friday,” which recommends five books of a certain topic for different ages.

Read Between The Lynes

It offers a storytime every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the square (weather permitting). It also has a daytime book club, evening book club, history book club, progressives book club and fantasy book club.

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore

Check out this local, family-owned, independent bookstore that serves Chicago’s South Loop. It sells a selection of new releases and favorite books as well as puzzles, blank books and greeting cards. You can also shop online and have books shipped to your door. Be sure to follow it on Facebook to find out about upcoming events.

Semicolon Bookstore

This Wicker Park shop is Chicago’s only Black woman-owned bookstore, priding itself on its diverse collection: more than 90 percent of books in stock are from authors of color. The store’s 800 titles are grouped by association rather than genre, and parents will love the section that educates children about anti-racism and race. Each month, the store does #ClearTheShelves, in which CPS students are invited to come in and pick out whatever books they’d like for free. It offers family-friendly events, too.

The Book Cellar

Head to Lincoln Square to visit this bookstore. Adults can enjoy a glass of wine while reading their favorite book. It offers plenty of events each month, including author nights, book clubs, book signings and more.

The Book Stall 

The Book Stall has been a go-to destination for book lovers for nearly 75 years. The quaint shop features an extensive selection of children’s titles and dedicates a large amount of space to kids’ literature. Staffers, many of whom are retired teachers and librarians, know their stuff and can make solid book recommendations for any young reader.

The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn

A fixture in the Glen Ellyn community for more than 60 years, generations of readers bring their own children and grandchildren back to enjoy the down-to-earth comfort of a real old-fashioned bookstore. Kids and parents love the store’s cozy corners where they can sit and read together, choosing from a very well-curated selection with books for kids of all ages. The store puts on many events each month, including meet the author events, workshops, book signings and more.

Town House Books

This independent bookstore offers in-store shopping and online shopping. It also has a café with a deli and bakery menu. There are events, too.

Unabridged Bookstore 

Unabridged Bookstore has created a space that is welcoming for kids and their caregivers. The collection is wide-ranging, diverse, and carefully curated, containing an approachable mix of beloved classics and newer titles that you might not find at a larger store. In the summer of 2020, Unbridged made the decision to contribute to organizations that work towards achieving racial justice in America. It offers book clubs, meet and greets and other great events each month. 

Volumes Bookstore 

Volumes Bookstores are quaint independent bookstores run by a family of book lovers. Every Wednesday and Saturday at 10 a.m., kids and their families can enjoy in-person storytime followed by a sing-along and literary-minded coloring or crafting.

Women & Children First

One of the last feminist bookstores in North America, this Andersonville shop caters to young readers who want to use their money to support the causes they care about. Some of the store’s fastest growing sections are devoted to genres like Young Adult Queer Literature and Disability Justice. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Lori,
    Thank you for this fantastic article, we love our bookstores, and I am certain, that this list could be so much longer as Sandra added her favorite place. They are all amazing , and as you said our true gems of the community, so important for young readers! And all those extra activities for kids are so special and I hope there will more more ideas on the way since we are approaching colder days . As a teacher, I know how much our kids need that contact with reading, writing, coloring, playing with the real books and crayons, reading together, participating in story telling and play.
    Fantastic job!
    Best regards,
    Joanna

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