The Twin Cities area is home to several wonderful 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 mall stores, 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. I know it’s 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 beat.
Independent Bookstore Day 2019 – April 27
Pick up the free Twin Cities IBD Passport and the Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap at the following independent bookstores on April 27 for your chance to “unlock” coupons and win great prizes. Plus, several are hosting fun and free kids activities. Thanks for supporting small businesses!
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.
Independent Bookstore Day: A whole day of giveaways, dancing, refreshments, poetry reading and life music. ARTrageous Adventures hosts activities for kids. 11am-3pm, get the schedule here.
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.
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.
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.
Not a 2019 Independent Bookstore Day participant.
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.
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.
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
Independent Bookstore Day:
- All Day Long: Twin Cities IBD passport stamps, scratch-off cards, exclusive merchandise (while supplies last)
- 10:45am: Read Aloud with the Lt. Governor
- 11am: Sesame Street Storytime – Visit the party room after storytime for a sweet snack and kid-friendly activities.
- 1pm: Escape Room! – Best recommended for puzzlers ages 8 and up (or with adult assistance), groups of puzzlers will have 45 minutes to escape the room and win a one-day discount on the in-stock item of their choice.
- 3pm: Jazz Ensemble
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!
Independent Bookstore Day: Giveaways throughout the day and a special Vet Visit for the critters that call Wild Rumpus home at 1pm.