Did you know that the second annual Authors for Indies Day is just around the corner, falling on Saturday April 30 at independent bookshops across the country? It's a day to celebrate indie bookstores, which tend to be the very best places in our communities, and some of your favourite authors will be coming out to be booksellers for a day and will happily talk you into buying some excellent books. A truly win-win-win situation.
And guess what: it's a perfect day out with the kids. And because we are fortunate in Toronto to have an array of stellar indie bookshops across the city with fantastic children's book selections, you have so many shops to choose from. Perhaps venture close to home or to somewhere further afield—maybe its the perfect excuse to visit a new neighbourhood. You'll be promoting community connections, celebrating family literacy, and you'll even have time to get an ice cream cone. Could there be a better day?
And now, in no particular order, here are all the places you can go...
I'm still reeling from the loss of our Book City here in the Annex two years ago, but the good news is that we still have other locations in the city to choose from, including the Beaches, Bloor West Village and Yonge and St. Clair. Although I'm most partial to the Danforth location, whose kids' book selection is enormous and incredible. They've got lots of kids' authors in their Authors for Indies line-up too—check out the schedule here.
Ella Minnow Books
Formerly on Queen Street East, Ella Minnow is now located at a larger location at Kingston Road and Victoria Park, which means you can still fit it into a trip to the Beaches. These people know their stuff, with all the best, latest and classics children's titles. Your children will think they're in book paradise.
Authors for Indies day corresponds with Type Books' 10th Anniversary celebrations. In a decade across the road from Queen Street West's Trinity Bellwoods Park (where you can follow up your bookshop visit with a picnic) they've expanded their store to include the most magical children's selection, complete with bunting and toadstools for sitting.
Another store of kids' book specialists! Mabel's Fables is two floors of magic (and there's even a cat!). Their selection includes quality books to excite kids of all ages, and their parents too. And afterwards, you can get some lunch on the neighbourhood's thriving retail strip (Mount Pleasant south of Eglinton).
Bakka Phoenix Books
A little more local to us (on Harbord just west of Spadina), Bakka Phoenix is where you can plant the seeds of literary geekdom in your little ones. This is where my children discovered Zita the Space Girl, so it holds a special place in our hearts. They've got a science-fiction and fantasy focus with great graphic novels and picture books and an excellent informed staff.
Parentbooks is just west of Bakka Phoenix (at Major Street on Harbord) and while they specialize in books on parenting, special needs and education, they've also got a beautiful selection of mainstream picture books (new and classics) and a perfect chair for a little person to curl up in. It's one of our favourite stops in the neighbourhood.
Ben McNally Books
Petula Clark said it best when she said that you'll find a place for sure downtown and for me, that place is Ben McNally Books on Bay Street, a block south of Queen. Dont be intimidated about taking your children to a place with such gorgeous chandeliers: the kids' section is amazing and it's healthy for a child to believe she belongs in magnificent spaces.
Little Island Comics
Part of Mirvish Village (on Bathurst south of Bloor) I sure do hope that Little Island stays local when they find their new location. But in the meantime, they're right here in the neighbourhood and they're a comics wonderland, also with a spectacular stock of graphics-focussed picture books. Get your kids into comics, both new-school and old—they're the perfect gateway to reading!
Another Story Bookshop
I love the way Another Story (located on Roncesvalles Avene in the west end) so perfectly balances their social justice mandate with being an amazing neighbourhood bookshop...and the kids' section in the back is huge. They've got great kids authors appearing throughout the day; check the schedule on their website for details.