03 April 2013

Our favourite children’s bookshops in London

by Rufus Purdy Opinion

As the closing date for applications to the Curtis Brown Creative Writing for Children course draws nearer (submissions need to be with us by midnight on Sunday 7 April), now seems a good time to highlight our favourite children’s bookshops in our home town of London. Each of the shops below is proudly independent and totally dedicated to creating an environment in which young readers can nurture their love of books.

Bookworm, Golders Green
A fixture at the Temple Fortune end of Finchley Road since the early 1990s, Bookworm is a dedicated children’s bookshop that sells everything from babies’ picture books to Young Adult novels. Attractive and intimate, it provides a welcoming space for local families in which to browse; and the shop even runs twice-weekly storytelling sessions for toddlers. A regular series of readings and other author events makes it something of a cultural hub for anyone under the age of 16 in NW11.

1177 Finchley Road, London NW11 0AA (020 8201 9811; www.thebookworm.uk.com)

Childrens Bookshop, Muswell Hill
An independent family-owned store in the heart of Muswell Hill, the Children’s Bookshop has been stocking a huge range of fiction and non-fiction since 1974. Its knowledgeable staff is on hand to help even the pickiest junior readers, and the shop also organises regular author events to pique the interest of North London’s booklovers of the future – Axel SchefflerAndy StantonMichael Rosen and Francesca Simon (a guest speaker on the CBC Writing for Children course) have all been recent visitors. The Children’s Bookshop is also active in arranging author visits to local schools.
29 Fortis Green Road, London N10 3HP (020 3479 6647; www.childrensbookshoplondon.com)

The Golden Treasury, Southfields
The largest independent children’s bookshop in London, The Golden Treasury Children’s Bookshop was opened in 1995 to supply reading-matter to the families of Wandsworth. Now triple the size of the original store, the current Southfields site (just up the road from the tennis courts at Wimbledon) sells everything from pregnancy and childcare titles, through to early years and on to teenagers. The bookshop boasts an exciting events programme, and highlights over the past year have included author visits from Oliver JeffersAxel Scheffler and Lauren Child.
29 Replingham Road, London SW18 5LT (020 8333 0167; www.thegoldentreasury.co.uk)

The Owl & The Pussycat, Ealing
Though it’s most definitely a bookshop for children – and specialises in a wide selection of titles for all ages, as well as toys and games – The Owl & The Pussycat also provides the best in new fiction, non-fiction and gift books for adults, too. Kids needn’t worry, though. This is not a shop that’s going to start being overrun with boring grown-up titles; not when events such as Storytime with Grandma Helen (every Tuesday from 2.00pm) and readings from top children’s authors keep bringing in the local pre-teens.
106 Northfield Avenue, London W13 9RT (020 8810 0880; owlandpussycat.co.uk)

Pickled Pepper Books, Crouch End
A relatively recent arrival on the children’s book scene, Pickled Pepper Books – situated close to the clock tower in villagey Crouch End – has quickly established itself as a favourite of local kids. A pleasant, easy-to-browse layout, which includes tables and chairs for children to pore over their favourite titles, is a big draw; though the weekly storytelling sessions, and events such as puppet shows, craft workshops and author readings also bring in all ages. The shop even runs a fortnightly book group for nine- to eleven-year-olds.
10 Middle Lane, London N8 8PL (020 3632 0823; www.pickledpepperbooks.co.uk)

Tales on Moon Lane, Herne Hill
Winner of the Walker Independent Children’s Bookshop of the Year 2011 at the Bookseller Industry Awards, Tales on Moon Lane has serious child-friendly pedigree (its manager also won Young Bookseller of the Year at the same ceremony). Known for the magical environment it creates for young readers – think pastel shades and innovative displays – the store is a magnet for the children of Herne Hill, Brixton and Dulwich. And, with weekly storytelling sessions, phonics workshops for toddlers and even a dedicated kids’ book group, it’s loved by the district’s parents, too.
25 Half Moon Lane, London SE24 9JU (020 7274 5759; talesonmoonlane.co.uk)

Under The Greenwood Tree, Clapham Common
An independent bookshop, toyshop and café, Under the Greenwood Tree was established up by ex-publisher Sophie Greenwood. She decided to set up the sort of shop that she wanted to be able to go to, and set about creating a place that stocked all the titles any child from 0-12 could ever want (plus an extensive teenage selection), and included a café serving proper coffee, good tea, and excellent cakes and biscuits. The result is family heaven. There are even toys available for children to play with while parents browse the shelves.
11 The Polygon, London SW4 0JG (020 7627 4557; www.underthegreenwoodtree.co.uk)

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