18 West 18th Street, New York, NY
If you’re in New York City and you’re looking for a new or classic children’s book, or you’re simply looking to take a trip down Nostalgia Boulevard, you’d be hard pressed to find a better shop than Books of Wonder. I stopped by this branch on a rainy Wednesday afternoon after running around the city all day, and it offered a very enjoyable half hour of respite from the downpour.
When I first walked into the shop, I saw the same sort of vibrant shelves and displays I saw in their upper west side shop, and one of the things I like best about this shop is how they break up the picture books into two distinct categories: “classics” and “new.” There are also rows of board books, activity books, and loads of fiction for all reading levels, from smaller chapter books or full YA novels. The selection is excellent and the variety and genres represented are always impressive. There’s even a glass display in the rear for true classics and rare editions. In this area in the back I also saw artwork on the walls inspired by children’s literature, racks of posters and prints, and shelves for staff selections.
There’s also an area of more education-focused books, guides, and reference materials back near the information desk. Toward the right of the shop there are also displays and shelves for discount books. This area is beyond an area of tables and large round benches. This area of the shop also struck me as being “in flux” somehow. I couldn’t tell if it was just used as storage, if it was under renovation, or some other use, perhaps just stacked equipment for events or a soon-to-come café area. Maybe when I return in a few months it will look different, but it stood out as curious in an otherwise vibrant and playful looking store.
Another nice aspect of this bookshop is it’s just a few blocks from Union Square, which means if you go to Strand, you’re a casual walk away from this one too, making that one heck of a bookshopping afternoon. But either way, Books of Wonder is well worth your time, whether it’s for a gift for a young reader in your life, or for the young reader within.
Atmosphere — A bright full shop with all manner of children’s book, including those for teens. The space seemed a little bigger than the shop’s needs, but it might have been under renovation too, so that may have skewed my visit a bit.
Quality — Top quality books throughout the shop.
Quantity — A surprising number of books for all reading levels, especially the picture books and chapter titles in all the popular series.
Diversity — An excellent array, with many voices, styles, backgrounds, and cultures represented.
Affordability — There are some discounted books, but most are the usual price.
Amenities — There are tables and benches and areas to read and rest.
Location — Just a few blocks northwest of Union Square.
Customer Service — The staff were happily helping parents and children alike.
Overall — This is a wonderful children’s bookshop and I always have a great time browsing, whether or not I leave with something to remind me of my younger reading days.