The Twin Cities area is home to several wonderful independent bookstores and, although they are not exactly a place to let your children run unchecked, they can be a low pressure, quiet outing when you would prefer to be indoors. We all know the national bookstores, and they are definitely good places to take kids, but this is a list of some independently-owned stores to check out. Some — like Red Balloon and Wild Rumpus — specialize in kids books. Others have a more expanded catalog. We understand that sometimes it is just easier to go to Amazon for our book needs (and if you do, we appreciate you using our affiliate link so we can earn a small commission and keep our site free); however, the experience of these bookstores can’t be matched online or by the national chains. They are cozy, homey book spaces waiting to help you find your next book!
Independent Bookstore Day 2020 is April 25. On this day each year, many local bookstores participate in a fun passport program.Families can pick up a passport at participating stores and then get it stamped at as many stores as they can visit to qualify for prizes. Many of the bookstores also host authors and plan family-friendly activities for Independent Bookstore Day.
Minneapolis Independent Bookstores
Birchbark Books and Native Arts | Minneapolis
Birchbark Books specializes in books about indigenous people, including children’s resources spanning from early grades to high school. They also host various events throughout the year. Watch our calendar for family friendly events.
Boneshaker Books | Minneapolis
Boneshaker Books has been on my radar for awhile, signaled by the respectable fact that it is 100% volunteer-run. Near and dear to its heart is a mission to connect and educate readers with social justice issues.
Kids storytime: Boneshaker hosts Madeline & Sam’s Magical Story Time weekly on Saturdays, 11am. The selected kid lit highlights a variety of racial and cultural identities.
Eat My Words Bookstore | Minneapolis
Considering this store is in my own neighborhood, it took me altogether too long to get there. It has a very friendly staff. The kids area is tucked in a back corner and kind of feels like a hidden space. You kind of have to wind through stacks of books to find it. This store carries mostly used books (savings!), so it is a nice place to discover books you have forgotten from your own childhood that you could now share with your kids.
New to the Scene in 2019: The Irreverent Bookworm | Minneapolis
We have not had a chance to get to this store yet, but the newsletters are exciting. The Irreverent Bookworm will be trading store credit for used books, which means they will likely also have a nice selection of used and vintage books to buy. I can’t wait for a chance to visit.
Magers and Quinn Booksellers | Minneapolis
If the Red Balloon is Gianna’s magical place, Magers & Quinn is mine. Although it only opened a couple years before I moved to Minnesota, it felt like it had been there forever. It was my favorite place to hide out. The smell and feel of shelves and tables of full of old books just relaxed me. I don’t think of it as a kid’s bookstore, but it does have a nice-sized children’s section, and there are always surprises to be found.
Moon Palace Books | Minneapolis
I believe that Moon Palace is the only store on this list with a cafe – serving specialty pizzas, salads and even breakfast – so you could plan an outing around mealtime for a treat.
Kids storytime: Stories are currently offered each week aimed at toddlers & preschoolers (1st/2nd Mondays and babies (3rd/4th Mondays). 10:30am.
Wild Rumpus | Minneapolis
Wild Rumpus is the rogue bookstore of the bunch — complete with chickens and chinchillas. The store is staffed with fun people who can make personal recommendations for books, have personal opinions of authors who are visiting (not just the standard press release stuff), and a tiny kid-size door that is just too tempting to not enter. On the downside, their event calendar upkeep often last minute, so it is hard to plan for author events. We highly recommend joining their email list if this is a store you would like to visit often.
Kids storytime: “Tale Time” is offered each Monday, 10:30am. Get there early for a good spot!
Saint Paul Independent Bookstores
Common Good Books | St Paul
Common Good Books is more geared toward adults — but it does have a children’s section. It is owned by Garrison Keillor. I’m not sure that would mean anything to our kids, but if you are also taking their grandparents, it could be a really big deal. The staff at Common Good is incredibly friendly and they were really great about me ducking in with my four kids when we found ourselves with several hours to kill in St. Paul on a cold evening after everything else in my arsenal had closed. I will be forever grateful to them for that.
Red Balloon Bookshop | St Paul
Red Balloon Bookshop is an FFTC favorite. The Red Balloon offers the most author visits of all the stores and the most options for story hours. It is a bright roomy space, whereas most independent bookstores I’ve visited are more cluttered and dimly lit (a good thing in my introverted world). When visiting with kids in tow, the bright roomy space may feel easier to take on.
Kids storytime: Wednesdays & Thursdays, 10:30-11:00am
Twin Cities Metro Bookstores
Excelsior Bay Books | Excelsior
If you don’t want to deal with city traffic and parking, this is an indie bookseller not in the heart of Minneapolis or St Paul but on a sweet shopping street in downtown Excelsior only a block from Lake Minnetonka. They also happen to host story trolleys in the summertime.