Just Opened: Books of Wonder Uptown

Whether you love your kindle, your nook or just skimming stories on your smartphone, there’s nothing like a good old fashioned book. And while many bookstores have shuttered in the last several years, there’s one that’s going strong, and even expanding. And better yet, it’s just for kids. Read on for details on the new uptown location of Books of Wonder. You and your littles will be headed there faster than you can download an e-book.

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photo: Kim Sunshine

First, a little history…
The downtown location has been open since 1980. It has since moved and expanded from its original location, and still has ties to “The Wizard of Oz” books, since reissuing L. Frank Baum’s classics when it began a publishing division years ago. Peter Glassman, the owner, comments on the importance of these books, “Since The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the first true American fairy tale, the book and its many sequels have always had a special place hear at Books of Wonder. We not only carry all of the original 14 Baum titles, but also most of the titles by Baum’s authorized successors as well as many modern writers take on this fantastic world.”

Many of these books can be found at the new uptown location, as well as all of the classics and modern titles your kids love.

photo: Kim Sunshine

Who Knew Going Up(town), Means Going Down (in demographics)…

Well, owner Peter Glassman did. “I’ve always felt that the Upper West Side is the most family friendly neighborhood in the city and given the large number of kids, parents, and schools up here, I thought it was an ideal place for a second Books of Wonder store.” says Glassman. The booksellers at the uptown location have noticed that their demographic age is younger than their downtown location, because in Chelsea, often their customers are parents who work in the area. With so many families on the Upper Westside, more and more kids and families are loving what they see, from board books, to “first stories” (picture books with more words than board books but not as many as traditional picture books) to loads and loads of easy readers, non-fiction books, and chapter books for the older set.

“We love recommending books directly to the kids, because we can immediately see their reaction, and know if we’ve peaked their interest, or need to suggest something else,” says Kellie, a Books of Wonder bookseller.

Another way the Uptown location differs from the original is their larger non-fiction section, which includes science, cooking and a diversity section with ever-changing titles. Glassman notes, “The new store is in a state of transition as we learn more and more about what the parents and kids in the neighborhood want.  One section we knew we wanted to increase at 84th Street is our non-fiction and science sections since we’re such close neighbors with the American Museum of Natural History, the Hayden Planetarium, the Rose Center for Earth and Space, New York Historical Society, and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.”

photo: Andres D. via Yelp

How Books of Wonder Differs from the Rest
For those of you who say I’ll just stick to my neighborhood bookstore, here are a few things to keep in mind as to why Books of Wonder is a destination, and has been for generations:

First, they separate books by age and not genre. This can help when looking for that perfect birthday gift for the kid whose passions you aren’t so familiar with. They also expose you to a variety of books you might not otherwise see or know about.

Second, Books of Wonder devotes equal amounts of space to classics as they do modern titles. Not sure how to differentiate? For kids, we’re not talking classics like Shakespeare, but titles most parents know like Dr. Seuss and Babar. These “classics” deserve equal love to the popular titles of today like “Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site” and “Little Elliott” that take up most of the shelf space at other bookstores.

Third, as the aforementioned history notes, Books of Wonder publishes all of the Oz stories, and you can get them here.

Lastly, did we mention “first stories”? Many stores don’t have as many of these all-important books when your child has graduated from board books but isn’t quite ready for a long picture book. You want to keep them interested in reading, and there are plenty of these to choose from at Books of Wonder, where they want kids to love reading at all ages.

Story times, Author Signings, and Spending Benefits
Yes, the Uptown location has story times and author signings like the downtown location, and they even have activities that go beyond the standard reading. For example, pop-up book author Kelly Anderson was scheduled to do a demo and craft with kids on how to make a pop-up book, rather than just a reading. Often authors that live in the neighborhood come in to sign copies of their books, and you never know who’ll be in, but check their website for details on planned signings and events.

Books of Wonder
217 West 84th Street
Upper West Side
(212) 989-1804
Online: booksofwonder.com

Have you been to the newest Books of Wonder? Tell us about your visit in the comments!

— Kim Sunshine


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