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.
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
Independent Bookstore Day 2021 is April 24th. 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. Because we are still dealing with the need for social distancing in 2021, families can pick up their passport beginning April 18th and can visit bookstores any time during that 7-day period to get stamped.
Many of the bookstores traditionally 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.
2021: Birchbark Books is open for online and phone sales. In addition, they will have an outdoor market Saturday and Sunday, 11am-4pm. This is weather permitting and it looks like Saturday may be snowy/rainy. Learn more 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. On Hold.
2021: Boneshaker’s physical storefront is not regularly open, but they offer an online bookstore via Bookshop. However, they are offering pop up hours for Independent Bookstore Week:
- Sun 4/18: 11am-5pm
- Mon 4/19: 2pm-7pm
- Tues 4/20: 5pm-7pm
- Weds 4/21: 5pm-7pm
- Thurs 4/22: 5pm-7pm
- Fri 4/23: 2pm-7pm
- Sat 4/24: 11am-7pm
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 because you have to wind through stacks of books to find it. This store carries mostly used and rare books, so it is a nice place to discover books you have forgotten from your own childhood that you could now share with your kids.
Kids storytime: While Eat My Words does not offer a traditional kids storytime, they offer regular poetry performance workshops (when anyone can show up to practice reading poetry out loud) and open mic nights when “poets, musicians, and musers” share their work. This may be a good way to keep the story time fun rolling into the teen years? On Hold.
2021: Eat My Words is open with safety and capacity restrictions. The also offer pickups and recommendations.
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.
Kids storytime: Still very new to the scene when Covid hit, The Irreverent Bookworm didn’t even have a chance to venture into storytimes. Maybe next year?
2021: In Store shopping by appointment only, but online shopping is available. They WILL be open for Independent Bookstore Day 4/24, 10am-4pm!
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.
Kids storytime: Not really, but browse their events for poetry readings and book events to possibly attend with older kids.
2021: Limited in-store browsing available. Contactless alley-side pickup:, in-store pickup and shipping and all available.
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: Look for virtual story times hosted on their Facebook page.
2021: Closed for in-store browsing, but the pick-up window is open Monday-Saturday 11am-6:30pm.
- Storytime with Mama Ray
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! Until the storefront re-opens, story times are offered virtually, via the store’s IGTV, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
2021: Wild Rumpus is currently selling online only, with no-contact curbside pickup from 1-5PM daily, of course, shipping.
Saint Paul Independent Bookstores
Next Chapter Booksellers | St Paul
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.
Kids storytime: No children’s story hours.
2021: Shop by appointment or order online for curbside pickup or shipping.
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. Find them online until they can return in person.
2021: Walk-in hours with safety measures in place.
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.
Kids Story Time: While they do not offer a weekly story time, they sometimes host story trolleys in the summertime. Sign up for their newsletter to get updates.
2021: Excelsior Bay bookstore is open to shoppers. Curbside pickup is also still available.
Online Shopping Options
These two book shopping options support Family Fun Twin Cities and helps us to keep our website running and free to families:
We now have a great way to shop online, support your favorite independent book store and support Family Fun Twin Cities. Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Family Fun Twin Cities also receives a small commission on books ordered through our link. If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on this map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop). Learn more here.
We understand that sometimes it is just easier to go to Amazon for our book needs. If you do, we appreciate you using our affiliate link so we can earn a small commission and keep our site free.