If you have a child who loves books or are looking for ways to get your children more interested in reading, taking them to a bookstore to let them pick out their own books can help them get excited about reading. Plus, Chicago is full of wonderful local bookstores that house used and new books in a variety of genres that you and your kids love. Check out one of these five local Chicago bookstores to browse the shelves and get excited about reading.

Unabridged Bookstore

A child sitting on the floor looking at a bookshelf at a bookstore in Chicago, IL

At the Bookstore” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by StarsApart

Unabridged Bookstore has been a staple of the Chicago community since 1980, and the staff at this bookstore are well-versed in all things books, so they provide fantastic recommendations across a variety of genres. What makes this store special is its award-winning children’s literature section, the large sale books collection, and its reputation as Chicago’s best bookstore for the LGBTQ+ community.

They host a few different book clubs for certain genres, like fiction and speculative fiction, and special groups, including LGBTQ+ folks. Unabridged also hosts author and artist talks both virtually and in-person, which is a great way to hear more about your favorite author’s writing process or discover new authors.

You can find Unabridged Bookstore at 3251 N. Broadway in the Boystown area. They’re open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


After-Words is two stories of more than 70,000 used and new books, so this local bookstore could be an all-day adventure for book lovers of all ages. In addition to a massive collection of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more genres for adult readers, this store features a fantastic collection of children’s books for kids at all reading levels. You can find Dr. Seuss for the younger kids and chapter books in many different genres for older kids. 

This bookstore specializes in finding titles that are no longer in print to help ambitious readers of all ages find their next favorite book or early editions of books for the collectors out there. Another great feature of this bookstore is their website, where you can browse the books they have available for sale and keep up with the calendar of birthdays of notable authors, a fun way to honor your favorite wordsmiths and share literary history with your kids.

After-Words is located at 23 E. Illinois St. in River North. Visit Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Open Books

In addition to buying both children’s and adult books, you can also sign your children up for Open Books‘ in-person and virtual programs to help them build skills in reading and writing. They host a regular storytime for toddlers and pre-K kiddos, literacy tutoring with their Reading Buddies program for 2nd and 3rd graders, and a creative writing club for kids in 4th grade through 12th grade.

Open Books proudly supports many book-giving initiatives for Chicago children. They’re a proud partner of the annual North Lawndale Reads Back to School Lit Fest, which features book and backpack giveaways, great local food, and live performances. This store also participates in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program that provides a child one free book every month from birth to 5 years old. This program aims to promote reading and literacy from an early age and provide access to brand new children’s books to children who may not be able to get them.

The West Loop store is located at 651 W. Lake St., and you can check this awesome store out every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore

Another local staple since the 1980s, Sandmeyer’s prides itself on its family-owned and -operated roots and its exceptional collection of adult and children’s books. They sell new titles and classic favorites for all age groups and reading levels. They also proudly feature books by local authors and books about Chicago history and sites. You can visit them in-person to browse their many shelves of used and new books, get stellar recommendations from the staff, and special events like visits from local and internationally known authors. 

In addition to books, you can also shop for unique greeting cards for any special occasion, jigsaw puzzles of all sizes and difficulties, and blank journals for you or your kids to scribble down book ideas of your own.

Sandmeyer’s is located at 714 S. Dearborn St. in South Loop. Pay them a visit Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Quimby’s Bookstore

Quimby’s Bookstore is a unique seller of comics, graphic novels, local publications like zines and periodicals, and small-press books in nearly any genre, including new, eclectic pieces of children’s literature, poetry, literary journals, film, and politics. This unique shop promotes local artists and writers by letting them sell their work in-store and hosting events for self-publishers to come and work on their zines and other publications from time to time. 

This is a great alternative bookstore if you’re looking for a new way to engage with your community and get involved in the literary community of Chicago, which is rich with artists, writers, and activists sharing ideas. You can check out their website where they post what’s new every single week. 

They’re located at 1854 W. North Ave. and open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.With this list, you have so many great locations to take your children to pick out new books, hear from authors, and participate in reading and writing programs in the area. You may also have opportunities to get involved with the community and promote a love of reading to others. Did we miss any of your favorite local bookstores? Reach out to Crème de la Crème of Lincoln Park in Chicago to let us know, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list!