7 Wonderful Independent Bookstores In The United States
There are many ways to buy books in the digital age, but nothing can truly replace the experience of browsing a well-curated bookstore run by people who are really interested in sharing the written word with the public. The seven shops listed here offer great selections, helpful staff, and community events for readers young and old. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
Great American Bookstores
|Ann Arbor, MI
|Word Up Community Bookshop
|New York, NY
|Women & Children First
|Hennessey + Ingalls
|Los Angeles, CA
|Hooray for Books!
Important Literacy Statistics
- 12%: Percentage of world population that could read and write in 1820
- 86%: Percentage that could read and write in 2015
- 2/3: Illiterate people worldwide who are women
- 85%: Juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system that are functionally illiterate
- More than 60%: Prison inmates who are functionally illiterate
- 90%: Welfare recipients who are high school dropouts
- 2/3: Students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade that end up in jail or on welfare
- 53%: Percentage of fourth grade students who said they read for recreation
- 20%: Percentage of eighth grade students who said the same
- 30 million: Number of U.S. adults who cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level
- 1/6: Young adults who drop out of high school
How to Encourage Kids to Read
A great way to start is to get a bookshelf for your child's room. If they have access to their own collection of books, it'll be easy for them to read at their own pace. And if they're looking at the shelf everyday, reading will always be on their mind. It's also important to give your kids a comfortable place to sit. This can be anything from a rocking chair to a couch to a dedicated reading nook. If they have a space that's just for them, it makes reading time all the more special. As they grow, your young ones will start to read more challenging books with words they don't know. Encourage them to look up unfamiliar terms in the dictionary so they can expand their vocabulary. Finally, if you're having trouble getting your kid interested in books in the first place, try bridging the gap between visual media and literature with graphic novels.
Why Reading Matters
There's nothing so enchanting as discovering a great new bookstore with the kind of selection and layout that will lead you to previously undiscovered continents of thought and expression. This list, presented in no particular order, looks at seven outstanding bookstores across the United States that will be sure to inspire book lovers.
At #1, it's Greenlight Bookstore, with two locations in Brooklyn, New York: one in Fort Greene and one in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. An independently owned shop, it puts a major emphasis on community, touting the benefits of small, local business. The staff works hard to hand pick the books it stocks, striving to curate a selection that will resonate with area residents.
Located in close proximity to the heart of the publishing industry, the store is known for its lively event series, which brings in a range of novelists, journalists, poets, and other writers for conversations and signings. It is also home to book groups and programs for children, including regular story time programming with guest hosts like author and illustrator Erin McGill and the N.Y.U. Learn Lab.
It is also home to book groups and programs for children, including regular story time programming with guest hosts like author and illustrator Erin McGill and the N.Y.U. Learn Lab.
#2: Ann Arbor, Michigan's Literati Bookstore is an independent, general interest shop in the heart of the city's downtown, a few blocks from the campus of the University of Michigan. It aims to be a place where book lovers can go, talk, and interact with each other, at the same time as they discover new books and unfamiliar ideas. It also includes a full-service espresso and coffee bar.
Publishers Weekly's 2019 Bookstore of the Year, Literati hosts author readings, book clubs, poetry nights, and other kinds of events. The highly experienced staff members all hail from the greater Ann Arbor area, which has long been famous for its bookstores, like the once massive Borders chain. The store's collector's group offers signed first editions of major new titles to subscribers.
For #3, we've got Book Bar in Denver, Colorado's Tennyson Street arts district. In combining the functions of a bookstore and wine bar, owner Nicole Sullivan was driven not only by the idea of bringing together her two passions, but also the need for a community gathering space where people are encouraged to browse and dawdle.
In combining the functions of a bookstore and wine bar, owner Nicole Sullivan was driven not only by the idea of bringing together her two passions, but also the need for a community gathering space where people are encouraged to browse and dawdle.
The staff believes strongly in the value of local business and independent bookstores. The store hosts a variety of children's programming, and publishes book reviews by local kids online through its Book Worm initiative. There are also recurring events for adults, such as book clubs, writing groups, and author happy hours.
In the #4 spot, Word Up Community Bookshop is a multilingual, general-interest community bookshop and arts space. It's located in the largely Dominican Washington Heights section of uptown Manhattan. The volunteer-run space is committed to preserving and building a neighborhood in which all residents help each other to live better informed and more expressive lives.
The store hosts readings, concerts, screenings, art exhibitions, talks and workshops, community meetings, and other activities for kids and adults. Word Up carries books in a wide range of categories, and the staff assembles lists to recommend titles of relevance to area residents. Its Uptown Reads program is a book club that sponsors events designed to encourage collective discussion and education.
Word Up carries books in a wide range of categories, and the staff assembles lists to recommend titles of relevance to area residents.
Coming in at #5, the Chicago-based Women and Children First believes in the transformative power of literature. The owners and staff describe themselves as intersectional, trans-inclusive feminists who see books as tools for liberation. Founded in 1979, it occupied several different storefronts across the city before arriving at its current location in the Andersonville neighborhood.
One of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, it stocks more than 30,000 books by and about women, as well as many LGBTQ titles. Offering a welcoming space for learning, dialogue, and reflection, the store hosts author events and facilitates community conversations, book groups, and story times. It also partners with schools and mission-aligned organizations to encourage reading.
#6 is Hennessey and Ingalls. Located in Los Angeles's downtown Arts District, it is the largest art, architecture, and design bookstore in the western United States. The store maintains especially strong and in-depth selections of books in art history, photography, interior design, landscaping, and all phases of architecture.
The store maintains especially strong and in-depth selections of books in art history, photography, interior design, landscaping, and all phases of architecture.
A landmark in the area's visual arts community, the store counts among its clients museums, collectors, galleries, and architectural and graphic design firms. It's the primary book supplier to a handful of large academic art libraries in Southern California, and serves as a source of inspiration for many Hollywood art directors.
Closing out the list at #7, Hooray for Books is an independently-owned bookstore located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Founded in 2008, it began as a specialty outlet for children's titles and has expanded to include a well-curated adult section and popular young adult selections. Its Authors-in-Schools Program collaborates with more than 75 educational institutions.
A favorite neighborhood gathering place, the store hosts two weekly story times that bring in dozens of kids and parents, plus two adult book clubs. It is also home to a variety of other fun events for children. The staff creates recommendation lists for all tastes and occasions. Members of its Youth Advisory Council receive access to galleys of forthcoming titles and publish online reviews.