Green Bean Books, Portland.
Seattle,  Vancouver Metro,  Victoria

The Best Kids’ Bookstores in Cascadia

Cascadia is one of the most-literate regions in North America. Don’t just take my  word for it – check out where Seattle and Portland rank on “America’s Most Literate Cities” — number one and number six, respectively. Arts groups in Vancouver are working on getting the city designated as one of UNESCO’s “Cities of Literature.”

Readers tend to raise kids who love to read. We also support our independent children’s bookstores, which offer a great combination of wise advice and the best of kids’ books. Kids bookstores sell unique souvenirs; you won’t find these region-specific titles at home. Better than just another t-shirt!

Here’s the list of my favorite children’s bookstores. Categorized by city, then alphabetized. Of course.

Portland children’s bookstores:

A Children’s Place. For 35 years, A Children’s Place has entertained reading families in Portland. In fact, I went when I was a kid! The store’s location has bounced around since my childhood, but remains a mainstay for Portland parents. Why? Because parents love the hand-picked book recommendations from the staff and the kids’ play area.

Green Bean Books. This shop takes adorability to new heights. It’s the smallest of all the bookstores on this list, but it makes up for square footage with floor-to-ceiling shelves and only-in-Portland fun. Check out the vending machine dispensing handmade puppets and the mustache dispenser. Oh, and the book selection is stellar, too. Of course! In Portland’s Alberta neighborhood, chock-full of goodies (including Vita Cafe, mentioned on the Portland Family-Friendly Restaurants page).

Seattle Children’s Bookstore:

Mockingbird Books in Seattle serves up storytimes, hot coffee and house-made cookies. Books for babies through adults, but primarily concentrating on great kid lit and fun easy-to-travel-with book kits. Within walking distance of Seattle’s Green Lake, where the stroller set meets at the playground and fit families jog around the water’s perimeter. Get a book and a blanket, and enjoy a book under a leafy tree.

Vancouver, BC children’s bookstore:

Kidsbooks. Founded by a former children’s librarian, Kidsbooks features thousands of impossibly wonderful kid and teen books, make-your-own art kits from France, travel-ready games, a half-dozen cheerful staff ready to help you find the perfect title, and petite areas to sit and cull your selection. Don’t miss the First Nations and Canadian-focused slections. It’s hard to pick just one, two or a few items out of this large bookstore. We’ve walked out with over a dozen books and a depleted bank account. Once out the door, you’re in Vancouver’s Kitsilano district and temptingly close to several Greek pastry shops. Just pick one — can’t go wrong.

Victoria children’s bookstore:

Tall Tales Books. Tall Tales Books recently opened on Vancouver Island, filling Victoria’s kid niche. Located in downtown Victoria and easy to reach via any of the Inner Harbour hotels; The stroller-friendly interior is perfect for travelers looking for that perfect book for the ferry ride home. Check the schedule when you’re in town to catch a local author reading or a storytime.

Do you know of a great kids’ bookstore in a smaller Pacific Northwest city? Let us in on your secret!

Seattle Family Vacation

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.