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What's Your Favorite Independent Bookstore? Middle Grade Authors Tell All!

Special Feature

What's Your Favorite Independent Bookstore? Middle Grade Authors Tell All!

May 2nd is one of the coolest literary holidays of the year --- Independent Bookstore Day! This day honors all of the awesome indies across the country and everything that they do for us, whether that's giving us access to great books and knowledgeable booksellers, hosting amazing events or providing a community space for book lovers.
 
At Teenreads, we decided to celebrate by asking middle grade authors to tell us about their favorite indie bookstores. See their answers below, and be sure to check them out if you live nearby, on May 2nd and throughout the year!

 

 

It's too hard to pick a favorite, but I'll give you the top. Little Professor Book Center (Homewood, Alabama), who have gone with me to several schools, Page & Palette (Fairhope, Alabama), who have a great staff and an awesome location, Avid Bookshop (Athens, Georgia), a model for independents everywhere and Changing Hands (Tempe, Arizona), who put on awesome events! – Lou Anders (FROSTBORN and the forthcoming NIGHTBORN
 

I find that no matter where I go, bookstores are always an extension of home.  A place of refuge and rejuvenation.  Most are a pleasure to step into and some are a great bit more than that.  BBGB books in Richmond, Virginia is just such a place. Step in, why don't you?  They will put the right books in your hands and quickly remind you why people, paper, spines and words are something to be continually celebrated."  --- Obert Skye (WITHERWOOD REFORM SCHOOL)

Picking a favorite indie bookseller is like picking a favorite dessert . . . next to impossible. But I have to give a big shout out to Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois. I am always astounded by the creative ways Anderson’s reaches out locally, regionally and nationally to support great kids’ books and their authors!  Thanks, Anderson’s!” --- Andrea Beaty (FLUFFY BUNNIES 2: The Schnoz of Doom)

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, we're lucky enough to have two dedicated children's bookstores...and I love them both for very different reasons! THE RED BALLOON has introduced me to thousands of Minnesota schoolkids with their amazing school visit program, and their experienced booksellers are pros at recommending the perfect book for every person who steps into their store. I also love WILD RUMPUS because they host my fun parent-kid book club, and because the store --- with wandering chickens, a dog, mice, chinchillas, etc. --- is always a fun experience for my whole family!” —Erin Soderberg (The Quirks series)

I refuse to pick just one.  If you had tasked me to name my TOP 100, I would still be challenged.  Having said that, I will list three that stand out for me. In no particular order...|
1) Voracious Reader in Larchmont, New York --- A top notch children's bookstore that opened at a time when bookstores like this one were closing, and it's managed not only to flourish but even expand.
2) Spellbound in Asheville, North Carolina --- This store was a significant supporter of my books from day one.  It's undergone several location changes over the years, but its current one is by far the best.
3) Children's Book World in Haverford, Pennsylvania -- Frustratingly, this store opened its doors for the first time one year after I happened to graduate from the college across the street from it.  However, since then, I've managed to form a relationship with this store unlike any other.  I read the dummy version of BAD KITTY to an audience there for the very first time, nearly a year before its actual release. --- Nick Bruel (author of the Bad Kitty series)

I look forward to my author visits at Children's Book World in Haverford, Pennsylvania all year. It's not just that the staff and co-owner Heather Hebert are amazingly sweet and fun to be around; they're incredibly good at what they do. They know children's books like nobody's business and no matter what my boys are into at the time of my visit (Zombies! Ghosts! Pirates! Ghost pirate zombies!), I know anyone on staff will be able find the perfect book for me to bring home to them from my tour. --- Jen Calonita (FLUNKED)

Once Upon a Time bookstore in Montrose, California makes you feel like you're at home from the second you walk through the door. –Jennifer Gray Olson, (NINJA BUNNY, forthcoming)

Every time I'm back in Boston, I always make a stop at NEW ENGLAND MOBILE BOOK FAIR in Newton, Massachusetts.  Nothing makes me happier than browsing through those aisles for hours --- that's how I know I’m back home.--- Janet Tashjian (My Life As series)

Nonesuch Books located in South Portland, Maine is, as its name suggests, an independent bookstore without equal. This funky little book store not only stocks thousands of books, but they have hosted book signings for such literary luminaries as Stephen King and Richard Russo. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and truly loves books!--- Gary Urey (Super Schnoz series)

I'm lucky to have some outstanding indie bookshops in my area, but The Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, Pennsylvania is really something extraordinary. The store itself is spacious yet comfy, and there are plenty of spots to sit and browse through their extensive selection of books in every category imaginable. They hold eight different book clubs for different age groups and interests, host weekly story times for kids, have poetry and creative writing workshops and support authors through bookstore signing events, readings and assistance in arranging school visits. This is far more than a book store --- it's an integral part of Doylestown and its neighboring communities.” –-- Andy Myer, (HENRY HUBBLE’S BOOK OF TROUBLES)

No visit to my hometown of Huntington, New York, is ever complete without a ramble through Book Revue. Despite its impressive size (and I remember back when it was far less grand), Book Review still manages to make readers feel like they're in a warm, friendly, cozy book zone. A few years ago when I was up to visit my father in the hospital, I mentioned to the bookseller the reason why I'd made the trip from Philadelphia. A few weeks later when my dad dropped in to buy a book, they asked him how he was feeling*.

*Perfectly fine. My dad was all TRIPLE BYPASS, WHUTEVER, SOMEBUDDY GIVE ME THE GO-AHEAD TO DRIVE ALREADY. --- Amy Ignatow (The Popularity Papers series)

When you live in Brooklyn, New York, like I do, part of the fun is “being seen in the scene.” That means that on any given day, you can spot some of the coolest people hanging out at an awesome restaurant, flea market, sidewalk café or jazz joint. But the all-time hippest and most together folks can be found at Greenlight Bookstore on Fulton Street, my favorite neighborhood indie. It’s the only place I know where Sunday sing-alongs and a carefully curated children’s section attract an eclectic mix of devoted “with-it” book lovers.---Andrea Davis Pinkney (THE RED PENCIL, the forthcoming RHYTHM RIDE: A Road Trip Through Motown Sound)

My favorite indie is called FACE IN A BOOK and it's in El Dorado Hills, California. It’s a spacious bookstore with many shelves for kids' books, and the owner often helps out SCBWI authors by selling books at our writer conferences. --- Linda Joy Singleton (Curious Cat Spy Club series)

I've never met an indie bookstore I didn't love, but The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, New York and Vermont's Flying Pig Books and Phoenix Books are probably closest to my heart. All three serve schools, teachers and families so beautifully and their staffs know that the right book at the right time can truly change a life. --- Kate Messner (ALL THE ANSWERS)

I'm a huge fan of Northshire Bookstore, just a block from my office in Saratoga Springs, New York. They've got great events, an entire floor of kids and YA books and I love that one of my books was recently spotted on display beside one of Rush Limbaugh's. Is there someone out there who wants both? Hey, you never know --- that's the beauty of browsing at a real store!" --- Steve Sheinkin (THE PORT CHICAGO 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights and the forthcoming MOST DANGEROUS: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War)

I love several indie bookstores! Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, has an amazing staff who are so excited about books. (Plus there is a stellar café in the basement where you can get amazing soup and pie!) A Book for All Seasons in Leavenworth, Washington, has the best taste in children's books and a great humor section. And Auntie's Books in Spokane, Washington, has wonderful, creaky old floors and a game store (called Uncle's, of course!) next door. What they all have in common, though, is people who are passionate about books and can't wait to share their favorites with you! Oh! I can't forget to mention Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon. They are so huge that the books go on forever and ever! It's easy to get lost inside Powell's. (But why would you ever want to get found?) --- Rebecca VanSlyke (MOM SCHOOL, forthcoming)

It's hard to choose a favorite indie bookstore: Teeny-tiny Cottage Book Shop in teeny-tiny Glen Arbor, Michigan, is an adorable Lincoln-log cottage. So fun to walk through their doors. The Book Cellar in Chicago, Illinois is as warm and friendly as they come. McLean & Eakin in Petoskey, Michigan, is an example of bookselling at its absolute best. But I guess I'd have to say my favorite bookstore is in my own back yard: 57th Street Books on Chicago's South Side, where the cozy atmosphere, supportive staff, and books tucked into nooks and crannies weave their charms. --- Kate Hannigan,(THE DETECTIVE'S ASSISTANT)