I've been traveling lately, which means of course I leave room in my suitcase for books. When work took me to Santa Barbara, CA for a conference recently, I took an extra day at the end to visit my father up the coast.
The town of Santa Cruz is famous for its boardwalk (great for kids), beautiful beaches, natural wonders and of course, surfing. But whenever I visit we have to make a stop at Book Shop Santa Cruz. It's a huge, progressive bookshop with the personality that's missing in our Barnes & Noble emporiums.
Bookshop Santa Cruz also has a BIG children's section and over the years we my daughter has played there on an old wooden rocking horse and sat on her grandfather's lap while looking at books. This time I found an illustrated edition of The Secret Garden. But what I also adore about this bookstore is that they have a small section of USED children's books which is just great. I loaded up on a bunch of paperbacks last time. This time I found a hardcover of Olivia which made a nice gift for my daughter when mommy finally came home and unpacked her suitcase.
This past weekend we were on the road again, traveling to Woodstock, NY for yet another conference. While my husband romped around in the snow with the kid, I went to Woodstock. In between sessions I dashed in and out of the towns wonderful shops. Again - here is a place with personality. There is no Starbucks here - but a warm, friendly and busy Bread Alone shop where we filled up on chai and coffee and admired the baked goods. They also have a terrific bookstore called The Golden Notebook (named after one of my all time ever favorite books). Next door to that - there is an entire second Golden Notebook devoted to children. Two minutes on the threshold and there were about 65 things I wanted to pick up for my daughter including - flip books (I got one called How the Whale Developed Through the Ages), books on Passover (including hard to find sticker books for the Jewish holiday), Fancy Nancy books, and more. They also had a great selection of toys and games and fun stuff. I also got a little drinking glass with fairies all over it.
Of course, here at home we have plenty of bookstores still worth exploring, including the lovely Books of Wonder in Manhattan. If you've never been, I recommend going when they have a story time session - their readers really get into it. In Jersey City, the newish shop Jack's on Jersey Ave. has a selection of books and has recently started some storytelling sessions and will be offering author events in the future. You can follow Jacks Toy Shop on Facebook.