Our favorite bookstores around Indiana for kids and families
One of my kids’ favorite places to explore is an independent bookstore. They enjoy talking to friendly staff, getting recommendations on new books, discovering new authors, finding autographed books, attending unique programs, and walking out with a new adventure in their hand. Check out this list of our favorite local bookstores, and even found a few new ones to share.
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Indy Reads Books
1066 Virginia Avenue. Indianapolis
Indy Reads Books is an independent bookstore that sells used and some new books for children and adults. The profits from the sales of books supports the not-for-profit side of the organization, Indy Reads. The mission of Indy Reads is to achieve 100% literacy for all. My family enjoys shopping at Indy Reads Books, as well as donating our books to the organization to support the cause of improving literacy in our community.
The bookstore recently moved from its Mass Avenue location to a larger space in Fountain Square. Please refer to the Indy Reads website or its social media sites for reopening information.
Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore
5619 N. Illinois Street, Indianapolis
Established in 1986, Kids Ink has been a staple in the Butler Tarkington neighborhood for over 35 years. It provides quality books and toys for children from birth through teen years. The shop also features book signings, storytimes, and other exciting events. My kids appreciated the friendly staff, the wide selection of books, and the toy capsule vending machines at the back of the store.
4 Kids Books & Toys
4450 Weston Pointe Drive. Zionsville
My family treasures this independent bookstore and toy shop in Zionsville. The staff does an amazing job at utilizing interests and favorite authors to connect people with the books they love. When asked about the store, my son said, “They are so nice. They always have a great selection of books and they give amazing recommendations.”
The store also features an extensive selection of board games, crafts, toys, and fidgets. During the summer months, 4 Kids Books & Toys has an outstanding reading program with fun prizes and author visits.
Black Dog Books
115 S. Main Street. Zionsville
Upon entering Black Dog Books, we were greeted by Sophie, the resident black Labrador retriever and store namesake. The shelves of the historic 1850’s house on Zionsville’s charming Main Street are filled with popular, rare and local books. The shop has a children’s corner where you can find childhood favorites or discover new books. My kids enjoyed visiting with Sophie, checking out the section of books about dogs, and exploring the children’s corner. After visiting the bookstore, you can enjoy the playground at Lions Park or cool off with ice cream at The Scoop, both within walking distance.
Turn The Page
149 N. Walnut Street, Westfield
Located in Westfield, Turn The Page is a cozy and quaint family-owned bookstore. It offers a variety of new books for adults and children. The children’s section is in the back of the store and includes books, activities, and toys. There are places to curl up and read as well as a beverage station. Kid-friendly activities include balloon artist visits, scavenger hunts, and author visits. Special occasions such as the store’s birthday and small business Saturday have included Kona Ice and homemade cookies in years past. Follow the Turn The Page on social media to check out what events are planned.
Main Street Books
426 Main Street, Lafayette
Main Street Books is an independent bookstore located in historic downtown Lafayette. One of three bookstores in Lafayette, Main Street Books has more than 14,000 books in stock, with a focus on fiction. They carry new and used books, and host free events including children’s storytimes, crafts, and author signings.
Second Flight Books
2122 Scott Street, Lafayette
Second Flight Books in Lafayette is a kid-friendly and dog-friendly bookstore. It features more than 35,000 used titles, new books, and literary items. As of summer 2021, the shop is currently waiting on scheduling children’s events until more kids are able to be vaccinated. The store is located across the street from Columbian Park. It would make for a fun day in Lafayette and explore the Columbian Park Zoo, Tropicanoe Cove waterpark, and Second Flight Books.
Brain Lair Books
625 E. Jefferson Boulevard, South Bend
Brain Lair Books is focused on bringing inclusive books, authors, and illustrators to children and teens. It is a kids bookstore with an ‘adult friendly’ space. The shop is currently between storefronts, but keeps a robust online presence. Their website and social media sites include author interviews, book releases, and current events.
Wild Geese Bookshop
107 S. Water Street, Franklin
Named after the poem by Mary Oliver, Wild Geese is a welcoming spot for all. My kids and I took a trip to Franklin to visit the shop. The little library built as a model of the store was a highlight. We enjoyed the variety of books, unique gifts, and friendly staff. In addition to the offerings in store, they have subscription boxes curated for different ages and interests available on their website. Subscription boxes include a Little Gosling for little ones and It’s Elementary, Dear Watson Gift Box for school-age readers.
Currently located on Water Street, the bookshop will be moving into a historic home in downtown Franklin in October 2021. They are planning on expanding their event offerings in the new, larger space. After visiting The Wild Geese Bookshop, we headed to the local toyshop, Toodleydoo Toys where we found a variety of toys, games, and fidgets. We rounded up our visit to Franklin with a stop at Main & Madison Market Cafe to grab a quick lunch before heading home.
Three Sisters Books & Gifts
7 Public Square, Shelbyville
Started by three sisters, Carolyn, Barbara, and Mary Kay, this bookstore on the northwest corner of the Public Square in Shelbyville promotes the value of reading and lifelong learning. To support their mission of supporting literacy, the sisters started Shelby County Reads, a community-wide reading program. In 2018, they expanded their business to include the coffee shop next door, The Bookmark. The shop includes a children’s section with books, activity books, puzzles, and stuffed animals.
We drove to Shelbyville to explore the store. The staff was friendly, explaining the store history and community events. I was excited to find canvas bags featuring a map of independent bookstores around Indiana. My kids appreciated the selection of middle school books, as well as kid-friendly snacks offered at the connected coffeeshop.
38 N. Main Street, Martinsville
Fables & Fairy Tales is a family bookshop offering books for all ages, located on the historic downtown square in Martinsville. The store offers book clubs, book signings, and crafts. It also has classic toys, board games and book related gifts.
During July, the shop hosts a ‘Where’s Waldo’ event featuring 30+ merchants/shops. You can pick up a Waldo passport at the bookstore and start our search at local shops. When you find Waldo, get a store stamp or signature. Collect at least 25 signatures to earn Waldo activity pages, Waldo bucks (to be redeemed at the bookstore) and raffle tickets to be entered for the chance to win Waldo books.
100 N. Walnut Street, Bloomington
If you are looking for classic children’s literature, new bestsellers, toys, or unique gifts, the Book Corner is sure to please. Established in 1948, the Book Corner is a family-owned bookstore located on the square of downtown Bloomington. It features a full line of McSweeney’s titles, Dover science and math titles, Penguin Classics, pop-up books, and magazines. Located just a couple blocks away from the WonderLab Science Museum and the Chocolate Moose, it would make a great addition to a Bloomington adventure.
When visiting local bookstores, my kids start at the display tables for books recommended by the staff and other readers. Some stores have reviews written by kids, which my boys enjoy. All of the shops listed have summer reading programs, scavenger hunts, subscription boxes, author events, or other unique programs. When I asked my son which bookstore was his favorite, he summarized it best when he said, “They are each unique in their own way.” Let us know if there is a bookstore you enjoy that we have not discovered yet. We would love to check it out!